The Chennai airport has earmarked the ground floor of its T-4 terminal to accommodate international arrivals from "at risk" countries where they would wait for results of their RT-PCR tests. The new screening process would come into force from midnight in the backdrop of the new Covid variant Omicron.
"This would accommodate around 500 passengers at any point in time," said an airport official.
"Passengers would have free telephone facility to make calls, forex services, food and beverage service and entertainment on TV as they wait for their results," said Mr Sharad Kumar, the airport director.
The Chennai airport receives at least 25 international flights and handles an equal number of departures daily.
On the system in place to avoid rush for getting the tests done, Mr Kumar explained "Passengers can book testing online even before departure or on arrival and they'd be tested in that order. There is a simple QR code system and even a cash payment option for those who are not tech savvy".
Visuals showed rows of seats at the airport with the middle ones with the markings for it to be left vacant besides a refreshments dispenser, landline phones and TV screens.
"The airport has also sought police help inside and outside airport to make sure there is no untoward incidents," said another official.
In September this year, there was chaos at the airport as hundreds of passengers jostled at the immigration and testing areas, compromising on Covid protocols. At that time, authorities had blamed it on too many flights and inadequate infrastructure.
The new screening requires mandatory RT-PCR testing for passengers from at risk countries. Those who test positive would have to be on quarantine at the government facility and a fresh test after eight days. Others would be tested if they are symptomatic alone. Two per cent of the passengers would also be identified for random testing.
This time too the bunching of flights would continue but authorities do not anticipate overcrowding as only passengers from "at risk" countries are required to be tested.