Pune Airport, located in the western Indian state of Maharashtra, has received an equipment upgrade to support customs operations. The airport, which often comes under scrutiny for attempts to smuggle gold, has received new bag scanners.
Pune Airport recently received two new baggage scanners to help customs authorities track smuggling attempts. It’s a massive relief, with India opening its borders to regular international traffic from March 27. The India time quotes a senior customs official saying,
“The baggage scanners that we have been using so far only offer a vertical view of the baggage. The new machines will give us a horizontal, vertical view and will have a 360 degree view of the luggage.
The airport has often come under scrutiny for its lack of infrastructure and amenities required in modern airports. There has also been a recent spotlight on the numerous attempts to smuggle gold through the airport, prompting authorities to install state-of-the-art machinery before India’s skies open up to regular international traffic.
Pune airport reported cases of several gold smuggling attempts. Photo: Getty Images
Several gold smuggling attempts
For some reason gold smuggling cases have increased at Pune airport. Last month, the Pune Customs Department arrested a man for smuggling gold worth nearly Rs 34.8 lakh (about $46,000). An official statement issued on February 11 said,
“Based on a tip-off, officers from the Pune Customs Air Intelligence Unit arrested a passenger who attempted to smuggle 705 grams of gold bars and coins by concealing them in his shoes. During his interrogation, the passenger confessed that he had traveled from Dubai to Ahmedabad by plane, concealed the gold on the plane and then recovered it when he had traveled from Ahmedabad to Pune on the same plane.
Passengers were caught smuggling gold from Chennai. Photo: Getty Images
In December 2021, officers also apprehended two passengers traveling from Chennai to Pune carrying 800 grams of 24-karat gold. Six gold chains and a bracelet worth Rs 40.36 lakh (about $51,000) were recovered from the individuals. The items were concealed under the seat of the aircraft.
Gold is not the only item held in Pune. Last month, customs officials at the airport also confiscated around Rs 6 lakh of illegally acquired foreign currency from a passenger who was trying to smuggle it from Pune to Sharjah.
Desperate for an upgrade
Pune Airport is part of the Indian Air Force (IAF) Lohegaon Station. While the civilian enclave handles commercial flights, the airport is mainly used to train pilots by the IAF, which also controls its air traffic control and the 2.5 km long runway.
Pune is India’s 9th largest city, a software and industrial hub, and home to many popular universities. Yet the lack of a fully operational airport has somewhat hampered its growth.
The existing runway is not long enough to support large aircraft operations, which means many international carriers and cargo operators cannot fly. see better days in the future.