Air India’s hub-spoke plan held up due to security risks

From Business Standard

Finding security risks in Air India’s hub-and-spoke policy, the home ministry has red flagged the national carrier’s ambitious plan connecting several tier-II cities, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s constituency Varanasi, with international destinations.

Several security lapses have been detected in the Air India’s Hub and Spoke operations, which connect Amritsar, Kochi, Ahmedabad, Panaji, Bhubaneswar and Varanasi with metro cities before flying the passengers to foreign destinations, home ministry officials said. Under the facility, international passengers are required to clear immigration and security at the boarding airport but no check is done at the last port of exit. Since such flights also carry domestic passengers, who get off at Delhi and Mumbai, there is a risk that someone, who police is looking for, can leave the country by exchanging boarding passes with someone who may have a pass for the international trip.

“This is a very serious security risk which we can’t ignore. We want the Air India to ensure that the system is foolproof,” an official said. The home ministry wants a security and immigration check at Delhi and Mumbai hubs or any of the last port of departure.

There have been reports of international passengers skipping India-bound exit immigration checks at the spokes during disembarking.

Incidents of passengers exiting without immigration check at spoke international airports like Ahmedabad, Panaji and Amritsar have happened.

As per the Hub and Spoke policy, metros like Delhi and Mumbai are used as hubs. The spoke-hub distribution paradigm (or model or network) is a system of connections arranged like a wire wheel, in which all traffic moves along spokes (smaller cities) connected to the hub at the centre.

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