India finally resumed its domestic flight services from Monday, two months after commercial airlines ceased operations in view of the Coronavirus pandemic.
Accordingly, the first flight from Delhi’s IGI airport since resumption of domestic flight operations, landed at Pune early today.
Similarly, two flights operated at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport, while one departed from Mumbai for Patna. The first arrival was from Lucknow as the domestic flights operations resumed. Both operated by IndiGo, the first service to Patna flew out at around 6.45 am, while the incoming flight landed aound 8.20 am, said airport officials.
Several other incoming and outgoing flights are scheduled during the day as the Maharashtra government late on Sunday permitted restricted operations in view of the Coronavirus pandemic that has gripped the state in a big way. The Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport authorities and the BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation, state government and other agencies have deployed full Covid-19 protocols to handle the incoming and outgoing flight passengers.
Flights are so expected to resume at Pune, Nagpur — both international airports — besides smaller state airports like Nashik, Shirdi, Kolhapur etc.
Maharashtra government has allowed 25 takeoffs and 25 landings every day from Mumbai airport.
However, adding to the frustration of passengers, as many as 82 flights to and from Delhi have been cancelled, with the people claiming that they were not informed till the last minute.
An Air India Bengaluru-Hyderabad flight was reportedly cancelled without prior notice from the airline. Passengers came to know about the cancellation only when their boarding passes were scanned at the airport entry.
Also, an Air India flight to Delhi from Mumbai was cancelled without prior notice.
Meanwhile, as mandated, airline officials and cabin crew were seen in full protective suit, while passengers in masks were checked for their temperatures before entry into airports.
The re-commencement of services comes a day after massive spike in ticket cancellations, along with a drop in bookings, was reported by the aviation industry for Monday’s flights as several states had moved to limit air operations.
Consequently, in order to calm nervous passengers Centre said that barring just two states rest of the country is open to accept domestic flights.
States across the country will resume domestic flight services on Monday except Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal, said Union Minister for Civil Aviation Hardeep Singh Puri on Sunday.
Airports in Andhra Pradesh will resume services on Tuesday, May 26, and West Bengal will restart on Thursday, May 28.
Another daunting confusion was over the quarantine norm which many states said they will enforce on air travellers.
This led to a cascade of calls at the customer care centres of online travel agents.
Nevertheless, many passengers still wanted to travel, if they were provided with a choice for ‘Home Quarantine’.
Earlier, air passengers gave an overwhelming response to the re-commencement of passenger flight services from May 25, as healthy demand was witnessed for tickets on all metro routes.
The Centre had only allowed limited passenger flight operations of about one-third capacity of the summer schedule to operate between metro cities and other destinations from May 25, adding that this capacity might be ramped up in the coming period.
Aarogya Setu App status is a must for air travel. Passengers with “Red” status on the app are not allowed to travel. No traveller from containment zones would be allowed. Further, it is mandatory for passengers to wear protective gear i.e. a mask.
Meanwhile, the Centre has said that it will try to start a good percentage of international passenger flights before August.
Union Civil Aviation minister Hardeep Singh Puri Saturday said that if the virus gets under control, the international flights could resume as early as mid June.
On May 20, the Government had informed that domestic flights would recommence in “calibrated manner” from May 25.
Passenger air services were suspended for both scheduled domestic and international flights since March 25, due to the imposition of the nationwide lockdown in the wake of the Coronavirus outbreak.