Tribune News Service
New Delhi, May 25
The first day of the resumption of domestic commercial flights in the country had its fare share of challenges, leading to chaos at almost all major airports as nearly 630 flights were cancelled due to states’ restrictions and airline operational issues. The confusion was further compounded by a variety of quarantine protocols by state governments, leaving several flyers high and dry.
Airlines draw flak
Airlines drew flak for lack of communication. The airlines said they could not disclose cancellations until two hours before departure. With the new SOPs dictating that passengers arrive at least two hours early, this led to many turning up at airport only to find out that there would be no flight.
532 flights take off
From no flights on Sunday to 532 on Monday, action has returned. With Andhra and WB set to resume ops, these numbers are all set to increase further— Hardeep Singh Puri, Aviation minister
The government had on May 21 announced the resumption of domestic flights from May 25 after a gap of nearly two months in the wake of the Covid-induced nationwide lockdown.
The two busiest airports Delhi and Mumbai witnessed cancellation of nearly 80 and 20 flights, respectively. Officials at Indira Gandhi International Airport, Delhi, said the cancellations were mostly on account of some states, including West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh, refusing to allow flight operations and also because of some operational issues like low load factor faced by airline operators.
“Around 80 flights to and from Delhi have been cancelled. The IGI airport was scheduled to handle a total of 125 departures and 118 arrivals today,” an official said. The Mumbai airport, the country’s second busiest airport after Delhi, was supposed to initially handle 175 flights daily. It curtailed them to 50 yesterday, and today further cancelled 20 flights.
Andhra Pradesh did not allow flight operations today; it will begin services from tomorrow while West Bengal will resume them from May 28. The two states have two airports each.
Smaller airports too had their share of cancellations, and had passengers complaining that they were not informed until they arrived at airports. Air India, in particular, has received criticism on social media for lack of communication with its passengers.
The airline, however, maintained that it could not disclose cancellations until two hours before the flight departure. But with the new SOPs dictating that passengers should arrive at least two hours before their flight, this means many turned up at the airport only to find out that there would be no flight.
Meanwhile, Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri hailed the resumption of air travel by tweeting a live image of air traffic in the skies. “Indians soar in the skies again! A beautiful live capture from #flightradar24 shows how our skies look busy again as domestic civil aviation recommences in India from today,” he said.
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