Some passengers of a Vistara flight from Dubai to Mumbai on Sunday faced a security breach when they were taken to the domestic terminal instead of the international terminal, without undergoing immigration and customs clearance. The incident has triggered an inquiry by the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) and the airline has said it will tighten its standard operating procedures to prevent such lapses in the future.
How did the breach happen?
According to sources, the driver of the bus that ferried the passengers from the aircraft to the terminal made a mistake and took them to the domestic arrivals gate instead of the international arrivals gate. The passengers then proceeded to the baggage claim area, bypassing the immigration and customs counters.
The ground staff of the airline realised the error and alerted the security agencies and the relevant authorities. The passengers were then called back and taken to the designated area to complete their arrival formalities and conclude their journey.
What did the airline say?
In a statement, Vistara said that few of its customers arriving from Dubai to Mumbai on flight UK 202 on February 4 were erroneously taken to the domestic arrivals instead of the international arrivals. The airline expressed regret for the inconvenience caused to the customers and said it was an inadvertent mistake.
The airline further said that its teams worked alongside security agencies and the relevant authorities to ensure that the passengers were taken to the designated area to complete their arrival formalities and conclude their journey.
“We are revisiting and further tightening our standard operating procedures to avoid any recurrence,” Vistara added.
What are the implications of the breach?
The incident is a serious security violation as international passengers arriving at Indian airports are compulsorily required to undergo immigration and customs process. The breach could have led to legal and regulatory consequences for the passengers and the airline, as well as security risks for the country.
The BCAS, which is the apex body for civil aviation security in India, has launched an inquiry into the matter and is likely to take action against the airline and the airport operator for the lapse. The BCAS may also issue guidelines or advisories to prevent such incidents in the future.