Maharastra, May 25, 2020: After two months of no flight operations across the country, domestic passenger flights are finally resuming today with a reduced number. Amid much confusion over the stand of state governments in resuming flight services, passengers started to queue up outside airports from the previous night to catch early morning flights back home.
Civil Aviation minister Hardeep Singh Puri said in a tweet on Monday morning, “Today, we restart domestic flights. India’s civil aviation is always on the forefront.” However, several passengers waiting for their flights in Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad and other airports complained that their flights were cancelled without any prior notice, IndiaToday reported.
Around 80 flights flying in and out of the Delhi Indira Gandhi International (IGI) Airport have been cancelled on the first day of flight operations resumption.
Passengers of an Air India Bengaluru-Hyderabad flight said their flight has been cancelled, without prior notice from the airline. According to ANI, the passengers said, "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."
Another passenger at Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji International airport said that her Air India flight to Delhi has been cancelled without prior notice.
The first flight from Lucknow took off for Ahmedabad on Monday morning. Another flight from Bengaluru to Ranchi took off 5.15 am with 173 passengers and 3 infants.
Confusion continued till late night before the resumption of flights over the number of flights being operated from different airports and whether the state governments such as Maharashtra and West Bengal, who had raised objections to resuming flights, will operate flights.
Maharashtra finally agreed on Sunday night to resume flights from Mumbai but with a reduced number. The government has allowed 25 flights to fly out and 25 others to fly in to Mumbai amid the coronavirus crisis which has hit Maharashtra the hardest. West Bengal, which is dwindling with the devastation caused by Cyclone Amphan, has said it will resume flight operations from May 28.
Passengers across airports are being screened at the gates by personnel wearing face shields and masks. Baggage is also undergoing thermal screening at the airports. Passengers onboard a Delhi-Bhubaneswar Vistara flight were seen wearing face shields as a precautionary measure against coronavirus.
Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said on Monday morning, “We brought back more than 30,000 stranded Indians on Vande Bharat flights since 6 May 2020. We flew 917 tons of medical & essential cargo on Lifeline UDAN flights since 26 March 2020. Today, we restart domestic flights. India’s civil aviation is always on the forefront.”
Passengers have been queuing up outside nodal airports such as Mumbai and Delhi from the previous night to make sure they don’t miss their flights. Most of these fliers were stranded away from home in different cities.
After objecting to resuming flights in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic, Tamil Nadu government has allowed passenger operations at the airports in Chennai and three other cities and notified guidelines. Tamil Nadu has said passengers will have to undergo 14-days home quarantine and an e-pass for entry.
Vijayawada and Vizag airports in Andhra Pradesh will not operate any domestic flights on Monday but services will begin from Tuesday.
Bookings had opened for around 1,050 domestic flights for Monday but the revised schedule has led to cancellation of several flights leaving hundreds of passengers disappointed. The airlines were allowed to operate one-third of their capacity.