Flights Cancelled, No Refunds: Chaos At Airports As India Resumes Air Travel

Akshita Jain
Passengers gather around an Air India official as their flight was cancelled at Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport in Mumbai on May 25, 2020.

On Monday, as India resumed domestic flight operations after two months, many passengers were taken unawares as several scheduled flights were cancelled, allegedly without prior notice.

“Only when our boarding passes were scanned at the airport entry we were told that boarding has been cancelled. We don’t know what to do now,” a passenger told ANI about their Bengaluru to Hyderabad flight. Several people had the same complaint as flights at airports in Delhi, Mumbai and other cities were cancelled on Monday.   

82 flights to and from Delhi were cancelled, NDTV reported, and passengers claimed that they were not informed till the last moment. Airport officials told NDTV that the cancellations happened because several states told the centre that they would not be able to operate the flights agreed upon earlier.

While the central government had earlier insisted that domestic flights would be on hold until 31 May, it sprung a surprise last week by allowing them to operate earlier than expected, reportedly due to pressure from beleaguered airlines. 

However, the announcement was also marked by chaos after Union civil aviation minister Hardeep Singh Puri said that travellers did not need to go under the 14-day quarantine as it was not “practical”. States with high numbers of Covid-19 patients, however, protested and until Monday, 11 states and the Union territory of Jammu & Kashmir have said they will insist on institutional or home quarantine for incoming passengers.

Even then, confusion prevailed until Sunday as states including Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu had opposed the centre’s directive and asked for more time to restart operations. Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh also tweeted on Sunday that “it’s extremely ill-advised to reopen airports in red zone”.

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