Until very recently Surat Airport was catering to the city of Surat only as a Domestic Airport. However, Customs and Immigration facility had been arranged time & again on adequate notice for outbound and inbound Non-Scheduled International flights & Charter flights.
Taking serious note of the need for International Connectivity and keeping in mind with the new development work that had taken place at Surat Airport, which was also suitable for International operations, the Airport Authority of India principally approved Surat Airport for 'Limited International' operations and further requested the Central Board of Excise & Customs (CBIC now) and Bureau of Immigrations to set a shop & equip Surat Airport with Customs & Immigrations infrastructure and the required manpower.
It was in June 2018, it was then announced by official Gazette Notification that Surat Airport was approved as a Customs & Immigration Airport for limited International Operations, allowing Indian Airlines to fly directly from Surat to short International destinations.
As in anticipation, prior to this announcement, although painstakingly slow, there was a reasonable amount of logistical progress made to the effect of earmarking a secured zone for International Operations. Secured offices for Customs, Immigration suitable enough to handle few International flights daily & allowing the functionality of Limited International operations on regular basis, were squeezed in, in whatever limited space that was available on the upper level of the present terminal building. With the official announcement made, Staff, Training, Equipment & Operating Systems were all set in motion for an earliest operational capability.
CBEC (CBIC Now) - Central Board of Excise & Customs made a slow progress to this effect and kept the matter pending for a very long time and only following the Gazette declaration, it officially approved Surat Airport as a Customs Notified Port for International operations.
After several failed announcements of the commencement date for International Operations to begin in the year 2018; finally, and putting all the pieces together, Surat Airport officially started its first ever International Operation from 16 February 2019.
Customs & Immigration:
As per an arrangement made between the GoG - Government of Gujarat and AAI - Airport Authority of India, it has been agreed upon that the GuPo - Gujarat Police will provide the requisite personnel as Customs & Immigration staff for the functioning of Limited International operations.
In a joint effort, an amalgamation of Senior & Experienced officers from Excise department, Immigration Bureau and the State Police and selected officials have been specifically trained and have been designated for a smooth Customs & Immigration process at Surat Airport.
As per an earlier MOU signed between AAI & GoI, Airport Security is to be provided by the Gujarat State and accordingly, the Airport is jointly served by GSP - Gujarat State Police & SRPF - State Reserve Police Force.
Passenger security check and the hand baggage screening for Domestic as well as International operations is done by Gujarat Police (GuPo) & in a combined effort the State Reserve Police (SRP), provides all around peripheral security of the airport premises on round the clock basis.
Since the airport is operated by AAI - Airport Authority of India, a central government agency, the Airport hence should have already been under the cover of CISF - Central Industrial Security Force, as is the case with most other Airports in India. However, other than technical and financial reasons, CISF cover has remained exceptionally elusive for reasons best known to Home Ministry, after a decade as a functional airport and even after the commencement of International Operations.
MOCA - Ministry of Civil Aviation has been contemplating, as a policy decision, to cover more Airports under CISF protection; as the central agency is sufficiently staffed, well equipped, & better trained to deal with extreme situations in case of an emergency.
With the recent runway extension, increased passenger traffic, commencement of International Operations and increase in flight frequency from 4 flights to more than 50 flights daily and Airlines seeking overnight aircraft parking facility, it is now highly imperative for AAI & Home Ministry to sanction security cover by the CISF at the earliest for better safety, security & seamless 24 hour operation at Surat Airport.
Although, BCAS - Bureau of Civil Aviation Safety, announced in February 2019 that Surat Airport is to be provided CISF cover within a short period of a month. In all probability the above facility is likely to come in effect earliest, only by the end of the year 2019.
Travel Advisory Note:
Security Check Timings & Baggage Policy:
Please refer to the specific requirements of Airport Security and the Airlines announced by them from time to time and strictly adhere to them.
Gujarat is a DRY State and so is Surat City being in the same state, POSESSION & CONSUMPTION of ALCOHOL is PROHIBITED.
Out-of-State & International Travelers MUST have Authorized PERMITS &/or hold an ID/International Passport to obtain one.
Only after obtaining an Authorised Permit, alcohol then can be procurred in the prescribed quantity from Government Authorised Permit Shops within the City.
For more information contact Gujarat State Prohibition Office, Airlines flying to Surat, Airport Manager, Travel Agent or Indian Embassy, Consulate or Overseas mission.