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Special teams handle arrival of African dignitaries

New Delhi: Even as senior ministers and officials from Africa have started arriving for pre-summit consultations, special teams have been formed at the Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA) to ensure the smooth arrival of the dignitaries – from kings, to presidents to prime ministers – for the October 26-29 India Africa Forum Summit (IAFS).

The sheer task of handling the aerial logistics is a daunting challenge in itself.

“The aviation logistics is a key area, as it is entry point for the dignitaries for the event,” a senior government official, who is in the know of transit arrangements, told IANS.

“For this purpose, we have formed special teams comprising air traffic control (ATC) and ground handling personnel at IGIA to track and handle the large contingent of foreign dignitaries who will arrive for the summit.”

These teams will work to coordinate the aerial movements of arriving dignitaries.

“We have stationed enough manpower and equipment to easily handle the communication, navigation, surveillance (CNS), air traffic management (ATM) and ground handling services for the arriving dignitaries,” the official said.

He pointed out that airspace over the IGI airport will not be closed to cater to the VVIP aerial movements.

“Nowadays, airspace restrictions are not imposed during VVIP movements. However, special teams do handle the monitoring and surveillance of such flights. This will also be accorded to the flights ferrying the dignitaries,” the official said.

However, special protocols will be followed to administer smooth transit to and from the airport.

“We will make sure that the aircraft are not kept waiting on ground to take off or circling in the sky for getting a landing slot. Arrangements have been made in advance so that these circumstances do not arise,” the official said.

Another senior government official associated with organising the event said that the dignitaries will start arriving from October 26-27 and start departing from Oct 29.

“Many of the dignitaries are arriving here by scheduled flights. Nearly half of the visiting dignitaries will be ferried by chartered jets or state-owned aircraft,” said the official.

The dignitaries travelling by scheduled flights will be formally received by the MEA (ministry of external affairs) officials at the IGIA’s Terminal-3 (T3) area known as the Canyon. This enormous area, that also houses the immigration counters, is resplendent with large-scale models of ‘hand dance mudras’ (gestures).

Chartered or state-owned aircraft have been allotted dedicated parking bays which will be connected to the airport terminal via aerobridges. Dignitaries arriving by these flights will then be received in the same manner as those who arrive by scheduled flights.

Dedicated parking bays and contact stands have already been allotted to the dignitaries coming through private jets or state-owned aircraft, the official said.

He said that a few dignitaries will disembark at bays located at the technical area of the Indian Air Force. This is being done on the request of the protocol staff of some of the visiting delegations.

On the parking of aircraft, the official said that there is ample airside space and bays available to handle all the private jets and state-owned aircraft.

“Unlike other mega diplomatic events of the past, when few aircraft were parked in nearby airports such as Agra or Jaipur due to shortage of space in Delhi, this time around there is enough parking space available at the IGIA,” the official added.

On the city side, apart from the well manicured landscapes, the roads to and from the airport will sport the Indian flag along with those of the 54 African nations.

(Rohit Vaid,IANS)

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