The Bureau of Immigration (BoI) of the Union Ministry of Home Affairs formally took over the immigration wing at Tiruchi international airport on Wednesday.

The takeover will be carried out in a phased manner and the team of officers of the State police will continue to remain on duty until adequate number of officers from the BoI is posted.

On Wednesday, a team of six officers from the BoI joined duty at the airport.

The immigration wing will now be headed by an officer in the rank of a Deputy Superintendent of Police from the BoI.

R.C.N. Reddy from BoI unit, Chennai, has been posted to head the unit initially.Till now, the immigration wing at the airport was handled by the State police drawn from various police stations and units on deputation.

The immigration wing will now come under the complete administrative and operational control of the BoI and the Foreigners Regional Registration Officer stationed in Chennai.

The sanctioned strength for Tiruchi immigration unit is 115, including clerical and technical staff. But, the actual number of officers on duty was much lower at around 40. The airport has 16 immigration counters, eight each at the departure and arrival lounges.

Tiruchi airport, declared an international one recently, has the maximum number of international flights next to Chennai airport in Tamil Nadu.

The airport, classified sensitive, handles about 118 international flights every week to various destinations, including Colombo, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, and Dubai.

Sri Lankan Airlines, Air India Express, Air Asia, and Tiger Airways are among the major international operators with a few more foreign carriers such as Air Arabia and Silk Air said to be eyeing the city.

The travel industry and airline operators have long felt the need for the takeover of the immigration wing by the BoI to ensure uniformity in interpretation of rules and enforcement.

One of the advantages of the BoI’s takeover will be that the immigration wing at the airport will soon get access to the immigration, visa, and foreigners registration and tracking (IVFRT) system. It will help in keeping track of persons on the lookout notices effectively, airport sources said.

According to sources, the BoI also took over the immigration wing at Coimbatore airport on Wednesday.