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Normalcy restored at airports

Last updated on: March 14, 2008 10:40 IST

Cleaning operations were on full swing at airports across the country on Friday after the nationwide agitation by airport employees was called off on Thursday.

Flight operations were normal at the four metropolitan airports of Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai, Airport Authority of India sources said.

Heaps of garbage that had collected during the two-day strike and dirty toilets were being cleaned up on a top priority basis to restore passenger amenities.

A report from Kolkata said that employees, supported by volunteers of the AAI union, had engaged in overnight cleaning operations and ensure that trolleys and water supply were made available to passengers.

Though flight operations were not affected by the two-day 'non-cooperation movement' called by Airports Authority Employees Joint Forum, it had its impact on sanitation, ground handling and other facilities at several airports across the country. The sources said that employees' attendance was normal at the various airport terminals.

The decision to call off the agitation was taken after the employees' representatives, accompanied by CPI(M) and CITU leaders M K Pandhe, Tapan Sen and Dipankar Mukherjee, had an almost hour-long meeting with Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel on Thursday night.

After Patel's assurances, the Forum leaders met separately and decided to withdraw their agitation. The employees, protesting the government's decision to close existing airports in Bangalore and Hyderabad on completion of the new ones, were assured by Patel that modernisation of 35 non-metro airports would be undertaken with "full involvement" of the AAI and its employees.

Airport officials in Delhi said that baggage handling and aero bridge services were functioning normally. A total of 26 flights had taken off to different destinations as per schedule and one Thai airways flight landed at 12:30 am at the NSC Bose International airport in Kolkata. Another British Airways flight touched down at 4 am at the eastern metropolis.

NSC Bose airport was one of the worst hit in the country in the last two days due to the agitation. Passengers bore the brunt of the agitation as water supply, toilet, air conditioning, aero bridges and trolleys were not made available to them.

In Chennai, services at the airport were showing some signs of normalcy this morning with the employees resuming work.

Chennai airport sources said top most priority was being given to clearance of garbage, which remained badly hit during the strike period. However, departure and arrival of flights continued to be normal.

In Mumbai, operations at the airport were normal and the flights were moving as per schedule, an airport spokesperson said.

Officials at the critical Air Traffic Control did not join the strike as they are not members of the union while the outsourced ground handling and housekeeping staff continued with their work, he said.

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