Day 2 of domestic operations: Cancellations continue, passenger flights resume in Andhra Pradesh
New Delhi, May 26: A day after the restart of air travel across India, flight cancellations continued with passengers facing difficulties, even as domestic operations resumed in Andhra Pradesh on Tuesday amid reluctance due to rising number of COVID-19 cases.
Except West Bengal, domestic flights traversed the entire country on Tuesday. However, as major airports like Mumbai, Chennai and Hyderabad have a severe cap on the number of fights they can handle, cancellations continued on Tuesday. Just like Monday, a section of passengers reached their airports on Tuesday only to be informed that their flights have been cancelled. Many people vented their ire on social media.
Chennai airport is scheduled to handle only 20 arrivals and departures each on Tuesday, said senior government officials, even though Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri on Sunday night said that it can handle up to 25 arrivals per day and has no limit on the number of departures. Even in Andhra Pradesh, where domestic services resumed on Tuesday, Vijayawada and Vizag airports will handle just eight flights each during the day, officials said.
On Sunday night, the central government had said these two airports can handle up to 20 per cent of the pre-lockdown flights from Tuesday onwards. The Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi, which is India's largest, is scheduled to handle around 277 flights on Tuesday, the officials said.
On May 23, the government officials had said they expected Delhi airport to handle around 380 flights per day from May 25 onwards. Mumbai airport, India's second busiest airport, handled just 47 flights on Monday and is expected to handle a similar number on Tuesday. On Sunday night, the central government said it will handle a maximum of 50 flights per day from Monday. West Bengal would be resuming domestic flights from Thursday.
However, its Kolkata and Bagdogra airports will handle only 20 flights each per day. On Sunday night, the central government had announced that Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal will not handle any domestic flights on Monday and major airports like Mumbai, Chennai and Hyderabad will see reduced operations from Monday onwards.
West Bengal, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Tamil Nadu had expressed reluctance in resuming domestic flights from Monday due to rising number of COVID-19 cases. The officials said the first flight on Tuesday to Vijayawada landed from Bengaluru at 6.55 am, carrying 79 passengers. The Spicejet flight returned to Bengaluru with 68 passengers, they added. At the Vizag airport, the first flight landed from Bengaluru at 7 am.
"At Vijayawada, four flights are of IndiGo, two each are of SpiceJet and Air India," they added. Visakhapatnam airport is scheduled to handle eight flights on Wednesday, the officials mentioned.
After a two-month suspension due to the coronavirus pandemic, domestic flights resumed in India on Monday with 532 flights carrying 39,231 passengers to their destinations. Around 630 flights were cancelled.
Thousands of passengers had reached airports early in the morning on Monday only to be told by the staff of airlines that some of their flights have been cancelled causing hardship to them. Gripped by anxiety and uncertainty, some came from faraway towns and were on the road for several hours wanting to catch the first flight to their respective states.
The varied COVID-19 quarantine and self-isolation rules in states and also the Union Health Ministry guidelines for arriving travellers also compounded their travel woes. The airlines, which were allowed to operate one-third of their pre-lockdown domestic services from May 25, had to further truncate their flight schedules on Sunday leading to cancellations. All carriers except GoAir operated their flights on Monday and Tuesday.