plan to conduct a survey to see the exact percentage of tourists, among the total passengers, who land at the airport and visit places in the region, including Darjeeling, Kalimpong, the Dooars and Sikkim.
The idea is to maintain a proper flight schedule throughout the day and even at late evenings after the Instrumental Landing System (ILS) starts functioning from 29 March.
Proper flight schedule is imperative to managing the unruly situation and traffic congestion outside the terminal building and congestion of flights on the runway, the exact capacity of which is only five at present.
According to sources, while airline services have been claiming that around 80 per cent passengers who land here are tourists, airport authorities think that only 60 percent passengers are tourists.
“The exact percentage of tourists who land here is required to ready a proper time schedule for flights, which will land here in good time, so that travellers can leave Bagdogra for their destinations and reach there by late evening,” airport sources said.
Of late, some airlines have contacted the Bagdogra Airport authorities, following the ILS development.
Sources said traffic congestion may go worse at the airport after the number of flights as well as passengers increase. The airport may also see air traffic congestion if the number of flights increases.
It may be noted that four more flights will be introduced shortly. Bagdogra Airport authorities have introduced a new summer schedule for flight movement from 25 March to 27 October 2018.
With the new flight services from Bagdogra to Kolkata and other places, the total number of flights landing at Bagdogra will go up from 22 to 26.
Flights between Bagdogra and Kolkata will also be increased from seven to nine as per the summer flight schedule, official sources said.
Asked to comment, Bagdogra Airport Director Rakesh Sahay admitted the overall congestion problems and said: “Flight movements can be definitely rescheduled. I can insist airline authorities on operation of only four flights in an hour for smooth movement. Some flights may land and take off in the morning.”
Notably, at the present schedule, 45 flights will land and take off at Bagdogra between 11 am and 5 pm from 25 March. “We need to assess the exact number of tourists our of the total passengers to ready an appropriate flight schedule for them. We will be getting data on whether the tourists’ flow is 60 or 80 per cent after the survey,” he said.
“Tourists generally want to arrive at Bagdogra airport on time so that they can reach their destinations by evening. If tourists land here in the evening or late evenings, that may mean an additional cost for a night stay in Siliguri,” he added.