The opening of the city’s new airport terminal suffered a minor glitch after taxi drivers decided to stay away from the premises, inconveniencing hundreds of passengers who arrived yesterday. Miffed at not being given a prior tour of the terminal or shown the parking arrangements, the drivers chose not to arrive at the airport’s taxi parking level.
The Air India aircraft from Singapore landed to a water-gun salute followed by a traditional Indian welcome for the passengers with a tikka and a rose bud. After clearing immigrations and customs, they were greeted at the arrival lounge with traditional Maharashtrian music. A team representing GVK/MIAL presented the passengers with goodie bags. Permanent baggage tags specially created for the occasion, bearing the message 'First to experience T2', were distributed to all passengers. Pic/Sayed Sameer Abedi
Taking advantage of the situation, the very few that did come plied at inflated fares. Haida and Zara Adamjee, who along with their kid landed at 1.40 pm from Dubai, said they were amazed with the airport, but the transport arrangements were a spoiler. They had to wait for 35 minutes before they got a taxi for their destination.
Haida and Zara Adamjee, who arrived from Dubai, had to wait for 35 minutes for a taxi. Pic/Sayed Sameer Abedi
“We were told that since it was the first day no prepaid taxi booth was operational due to which we had to search for taxis,” said Haida, adding “We asked a couple of taxis and the fare they quoted was way above the normal charge.” While the family waited, they were approached by a couple of TAB cab drivers that were ready to ply them by the meter. But, the black and yellow taxi drivers kicked up a ruckus and did not allow the family to board the private taxi operator.
“The authorities have completely ignored the taxi drivers and hence chaos prevailed here today,” said a manager at parking level-4, on condition of anonymity. Another passenger, Prabhu Unni, said, “ I have to go to Bandra Civil court and the auto drivers asked me to shell out Rs 600 for the journey. I have now asked one of my friends to step out of the airport premises and hail a taxi from outside. This is my first visit to the city, and this experience is very disappointing,” said Unni.
“There were two reasons for the taxis staying away from the terminal: we demanded GVK that the prepaid taxi counter should be shifted from P4 which did not happen. The second reason was that since the unions weren’t briefed and taken on a round of the airport, we chose to stay away. GVK and police officials have assured us that they will shift the counter to Level-1, but if they fail to do so the same thing will be repeated tomorrow,” said AL Quadros, general secretary, Mumbai Taximen’s Association.
The first passenger to clear all formalities and step out of the arrival gate was Ganesh Baid, a businessman from Chennai. Baid said, "I wasn't aware that the flight would land here. It was only when the pilot announced about it that I realised that I was onboard a historic flight. The airport looks beautiful."
>> Very few washrooms were functional yesterday
>> No trolleys at Level 1
>> Not a single dustbin was found at the arrival and departure sections