At the toll booths at the Chennai airport, lines of cars move through the open gates in a hurry towards the new departure terminal of the Chennai airport.
The vehicles quickly disgorge hordes of passengers and their luggage, and rush to exit the airport at the earliest.
Ever since the Airport Authority of India threw open the departure terminal for operations, many cars have been forced to pay the parking fee despite not using the parking facility.
Under the booth system at the Chennai airport, four wheelers must enter and exit the airport within seven minutes failing which they pay the parking fee that varies depending on the time period by which they have overshot the limit.
Vehicles often struggle to exit the airport within the stipulated time as they are forced to take a circuitous route till the end of the terminal’s ramp and then through the service road to the booth in order to pay the toll at the usual exit spot.
“Till seven minutes, it is free for all vehicles. Between seven and ten minutes, depending on the size of the vehicle, we charge them Rs. 60 and Rs. 70 respectively. Beyond 12 minutes we charge Rs. 120 for all vehicles,” said an official of Mumbai-based Garuda Aviation that manages the booth system at the airport.
Taxi drivers and domestic passengers have expressed a need for toll booths at the end of the ramp.
“By the time I left my aunt with her baggage at the terminal and reached the toll booth it was over ten minutes. So I had to pay Rs. 60 as parking fee. Won’t it take at least five minutes just to allow the passenger to get off with their luggage? The authorities should either shift the booths or relax the time limit,” said Pallavi Rao, an IT professional living in Perambur.
The problem becomes more acute due to traffic congestion on the ramp when several domestic flights take off, she added.
Sources at the airport said it may be difficult to shift the booths now due to some issues faced with the electricity connection.
Airport director H.S. Suresh said, “We have such a time limit in place because we don’t want people to stay for long and congest the airport. We may try and shift the booths as soon as possible.”