NEW DELHI: Indian airlines lose huge money due to hoax calls about bomb threats in flights and airports in the country. More than 100 such hoax calls were received in last three years, it has been found. Delhi received the maximum number of hoax calls followed by Mumbai and Bangalore.
Worrying is the fact that the number of hoax calls has gone up in the last two years. According to government data accessed by the New Indian Express, there were 14 hoax calls in 2014. This figure grew to 34 in 2015 and the number of hoax calls increased to 54 in 2016. This year, so far, 32 hoax calls related to bombs in flights or airports have been received.
In a written reply to a question in Lok Sabha on hoax calls in flights and airports, minister of state for civil aviation Jayant Sinha on Thursday said hoax calls result in not just impacting finances of airlines but also causes huge inconvenience to passengers. The minister disclosed that 120 bomb hoax calls were received in India in the three years.
The minister, however, said it is difficult to quantify loss in monetary terms but the aviation industry sources told Express that they have lost crores of money because of the hoax call menace. According to statistics, 40 bomb hoax calls were received at Delhi airport in last three years while Mumbai and Bangalore received 17 and 14 calls each. Pertinently, all these airport operators are maintained by private airport operators and not the Airport Authority of India (AAI). The parking charges of aircrafts at private operators is more expensive than parking charges of airports maintained by the government’s AAI.
A senior official of an airline, who did not wish to be named, said, “The parking charges of aircrafts depend on the weight of aircrafts. The heavier, the aircraft, costlier is the parking charge. So, if flights are required to be parked for additional time for security check due to hoax calls, we end up paying more to the aircraft. Depending on gravity of the call, sometimes we have to provide a new flight altogether that is again a huge cost for us.”
India’s aviation safety regulator the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security has been seeking stricter punishment, like life imprisonment, for hoax bomb callers under Suppression of Unlawful Acts Against Safety of Civil Aviation Act.