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India Aims to Streamline Immigration to Boost Airports as Transit Hubs

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India is set to simplify immigration rules and increase the number of officials at major airports to expedite the entry and exit process for international travellers. The government’s initiative aims to develop Indian airports, particularly Delhi and Mumbai, into prominent South Asian transit hubs. The strategy, known as the “confluence of flights,” will allow passengers travelling on connecting flights under the same ticket number to complete customs and immigration checks only at their first point of departure and their final destination, even if there is a layover.

This change will significantly reduce the time passengers spend on immigration checks at intermediary points, such as when travelling from Bengaluru to San Francisco with a stopover in Delhi. Currently, passengers must undergo immigration checks at the layover airport, which adds considerable time to their journey and affects airline schedules. By streamlining this process, the government hopes to improve operational efficiency and enhance the passenger experience.

Enhanced Infrastructure and Technological Integration

To support this initiative, the government is increasing the number of immigration officials and counters at major airports. This redistribution of immigration functions is expected to rationalise resources and alleviate the workload on staff at busy airports like Delhi and Mumbai, which handle most of the country’s international flights.

In line with this, airports are also leveraging advanced technologies to manage the increasing passenger flow. Delhi Airport, for example, is utilising artificial intelligence to analyse passenger profiles and deploy additional biometric machines for first-time visitors with e-visas. This two-step process aims to ease the pressure on immigration agents and reduce the maximum immigration time during peak hours to no more than 15-20 minutes.

Moreover, India’s largest airlines, including Air India and IndiGo, are expanding their fleets with new long-range aircraft to increase international flights. Air India, which has ordered 470 aircraft, plans to double the share of international passengers transiting through Indian airports on its flights. Similarly, IndiGo, with its order of 30 long-range planes, is set to enter the long-haul segment by 2027, reflecting a broadening business strategy.

These efforts are part of a broader vision to transform Indian airports into global hubs, attracting more international traffic and improving the overall travel experience. To achieve this, changes in airport management and potential government incentives might be necessary to ensure adequate investment in infrastructure and services.

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