The day the Ministry of Civil Aviation has allowed flight operations to resume in the country, with airports across various states reopening after a two-month suspension due to the nationwide lockdown amid the COVID-19 pandemic, around 630 domestic flights were cancelled on the first day of resumption due to restrictions imposed by various states including Mumbai and Chennai, PTI reported.
Mumbai had decided to handle only 50 flights from Monday, Chennai 25 and Hyderabad 30, according to PTI.
On 22 May, bookings had opened for 1,100 domestic flights for Monday.
Union Minister for Civil Aviation Hardeep Puri in the evening of Monday tweeted saying, 532 flights carrying 39,231 passengers flew today.
"Action has returned to Indian skies,", he said in a tweet.
From no domestic passenger flights yesterday to 532 flights &— Hardeep Singh Puri (@HardeepSPuri) May 25, 2020
39,231 passengers today, action has returned to Indian skies.
With Andhra Pradesh set to resume operations from tomorrow & West Bengal from 28 May, these numbers are all set to increase further.@MoCA_GoI @PIB_India
A lot of passengers across several airports have complained that their flights have been cancelled without prior notice, according to reports.
Some also took to Twitter to raise their concerns.
@IndiGo6E what about the fare of 25th May,2020 flight from Chennai-Agt that has been cancelled? Credit shell shows value INR 0— priyanka (@priya469) May 25, 2020
@IndiGo6E I booked a flight from Kolkata to Kochi which had a layover at chennai for tomorrow 25th morning. I just got a message the flight from Kolkata 6E759 just got cancelled. How do I reschedule my flight? pic.twitter.com/v3ygnwprLa— Princykumathew (@princykumathew) May 25, 2020
Meanwhile, various safety measures could be seen in place at the airports, with thermal scanning being carried out, terminal buildings being disinfected and sanitized, and crew members wearing protective suits.
Yesterday, the aviation minister tweeted saying "had been a long day of hard negotiations with various states."
It has been a long day of hard negotiations with various state govts to recommence civil aviation operations in the country.— Hardeep Singh Puri (@HardeepSPuri) May 24, 2020
Except Andhra Pradesh which will start on 26/5 & West Bengal on 28/5, domestic flights will recommence across the country from tomorrow.
Many Left Stranded Amid Flight Cancellations
The Delhi airport saw at least 80 flights cancelled amid all the commotion while Bengaluru also saw 9 flights cancelled on Monday morning.
Some passengers at the Mumbai airport were also left stranded at the terminal as they complained that their flight had been cancelled and they did not receive any notification from the airline regarding the cancellation, reported NDTV.
At @DelhiAirport as of now, approx 80 flights (departure & arrival) stand cancelled.— Poulomi Saha (@PoulomiMSaha) May 25, 2020
What a harrowing time for passengers who booked to fly today as soon as domestic flight reservations opened!
Some even struggling to reach airport to find out their flight stands cancelled.
Passengers of an Air India Bengaluru-Hyderabad flight also had their flight cancelled on Monday, apparently without any prior notice from the airline.
"“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.”" - An Air India passenger to ANI
Karnataka: Till 9am today, there have been 5 arrivals and 17 departures and 9 flights cancelled, at Bengaluru's Kempegowda International airport pic.twitter.com/wBgLrtcm7M— ANI (@ANI) May 25, 2020
Limited Flights at Each Airport
Each airport is allowing only a specific number of passengers flights to arrive at the airport on a daily basis.
The Chennai International Airport has restricted its arrivals to 25 flights in a day while the Maharastra government is also allowing 25 landings and take-offs from the Chhatrapati Shivaji International airport per day.
The Delhi airport, on Monday, was scheduled to handle almost 380 flights as maximum traffic is expected at the national capital.
Passengers & Crew Following Safety Protocols
Passengers with face masks were seen queuing up at various airports as many lined up outside the airport to catch early morning flights as operations resumed.
The staff and passengers at the airports have been asked to follow social distancing and as an extra safety measure, automatic hand sanitizers and floor markers have also been placed at entry gates and check-in counters for departing passengers.
Passengers onboard flights were seen with safety masks, gloves, and face shields on.
Earlier, there were plans to keep the middle seat vacant to ensure social distancing among passengers, however, the idea was dropped to cap the ticket prices.
The passengers have also been requested to download the Aarogya Setu app on their phone and reach the airport two hours prior to their scheduled departure.
However, just to clarify, there has been no clear directive issued by the aviation ministry that you must have the Aarogya Setu app to be eligible to board a flight.
As an extra precautionary measure, some states had insisted on a 14-day institutional quarantine for each passenger travelling.
Latest guidelines on domestic & international travel have been issued by @MoHFW_INDIA.— Hardeep Singh Puri (@HardeepSPuri) May 24, 2020
I hope travellers strictly follow these self-regulatory norms & strengthen India's hands in this fight against COVID19. Remember, each one of us is a soldier against the pandemic.@MoCA_GoI pic.twitter.com/xVbTG1K44n
Flight attendants and staff have also been advised to follow safety protocols at the entry gates.
In order to ensure their safety and of the passengers, the airlines are providing the cabin crew with personal protection kits.
“We’re strictly following government’s guidelines to ensure safety against COVID-19. Today has been a different experience as we’re not used to wearing protective gear over our uniforms,” a flight attendant on a Vistara Delhi-Bhubneshwar flight said.
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