The India-UAE air corridor is a vital route, with a significant number of Indian travelers journeying to the Gulf nation for various purposes, including business, tourism, and employment. As the festive season approaches, there is expected to be a substantial increase in the number of visitors. However, there has been a noticeable rise in the rate at which check-in baggage is being declined at Mumbai International Airport, mainly due to passengers carrying prohibited items.
Mumbai Airport has reported an increase in the frequency of prohibited items discovered in check-in baggage. These include items such as dry coconut (copra), fireworks, flares, party poppers, matches, paint, fire camphor, ghee, pickles, and other oily food items. Additionally, items like e-cigarettes, lighters, power banks, and spray bottles are among the top culprits. Many passengers are unaware that these items pose potential risks to flight safety when mishandled or stored improperly, as they are associated with fire hazards, explosions, or interference with the aircraft’s electrical systems.
A concerning example is the discovery of 943 dry coconuts in passengers’ check-in bags in a single month last year. Dry coconuts are highly flammable due to their high oil content and can potentially cause fires if exposed to heat during the flight. In March 2022, India’s Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) added dry coconuts to the list of prohibited items, but many passengers remain unaware of this inclusion.
Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport (CSMIA) has experienced a 21% increase in passenger traffic from its top three international destinations: Dubai, London, and Abu Dhabi. The UAE, home to over 3.5 million non-resident Indians, boasts the largest expatriate community in the Gulf country. It also attracts a significant number of Indian tourists, making India the top destination for Dubai International Airport in the first half of 2023.
The rise in the rejection rate of check-in baggage is primarily attributed to a lack of awareness among travelers about items that are prohibited or considered dangerous to carry on an aircraft. Mumbai Airport emphasizes the importance of passengers understanding and adhering to the guidelines issued by the airport and airlines regarding hazardous and prohibited items.
The proportion of check-in bags rejected compared to the total number screened has increased from 0.31% in December 2022 to 0.73% in May. Mumbai Airport’s baggage system can handle a substantial volume of bags, with an approximate 8-kilometer baggage belt capable of processing 9,600 bags per hour at Terminal 2 and 4,800 bags per hour at Terminal 1.