Cancelled flights, chaos and confusion was witnessed at many airports as domestic flight services resumed in India Monday after a gap of two months due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Several flights had to be cancelled due to the last-minute restrictions imposed by many states even as Maharashtra government permitted restricted operations late on Sunday.
Several incoming and outgoing flights are scheduled from Delhi's IGI Airport during the day after IndiGo operated its Delhi-Pune service early morning.
Similarly, two flights operated early Monday from the Mumbai airport, one departing for Patna and another arriving Lucknow.
Both operated by IndiGo, the first service to Patna flew out at around 6.45 a.m., while the incoming flight landed around 8.20 a.m., said the airport officials.
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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.
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.
The Civil Aviation Minister had on Sunday tweeted that except for Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal, all states across the country will resume domestic flight services on Monday .
Airports in Andhra Pradesh will resume services on Tuesday and West Bengal will restart on Thursday.
Sources said that starting May 28, Kolkata and Bagdogra airports will each handle 10 arrivals and 10 departures per day.
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Further, according to people in the know, both Vijayawada and Vizag airports in Andhra Pradesh will operate 20 per cent of both arrivals and departures as planned under the Summer Schedule. Hyderabad will resume services on Monday with 15 arrivals and 15 departures, sources said.
In another tweet, the minister said that starting Monday, there will be limited flights from Mumbai and as per approved one-third schedule from other airports in the state.
For Tamil Nadu, he said that there will be maximum 25 daily arrivals in Chennai, but there would be no limit on number of departures.
Industry insiders had pointed out that majority of bookings received were for flights between metro cities, due to the "pent-up demand", but now with limited operations and quarantine norms, a large number of queries have been received from passengers travelling to these cities.
Even airline executives were left in lurch on Sunday evening as state after state came out with new norms for accepting flights, thereby, distorting their network planning.
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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.
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 Covid-19 outbreak..