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India resumes domestic flights with cancellations, rescheduling and delays

In India domestic flights resumed from Monday, after long day negotiation on Sunday between several states and the central government. After opposing resumption of flights amid the coronavirus pandemic, the State Government of Maharasahtra late night agreed to go along with the flight resumption, but only to a limited extent.

Since, 25 March when the government imposed a nationwide lockdown to curb the coronavirus pandemic. All scheduled the commercials passengers’ flights were cancelled.

In New Delhi hundreds of people reached at Indira Gandhi International Airport for taking early morning flights to their home towns and workplaces. As the one who took the first flights included paramilitary personnel, army men, students and migrants, who had been unable to book a ticket on the special trains being run by the Indian Railways.

Due to limited public transport options available many said they shelled out more to reach the airport with trains running full and inter-state buses off the roads, Sandeep Singh, 19, spent Rs 5,500 to reach Delhi from Dehradun where he studies. “I remained stuck in my PG. Mummy and papas were a worried lot. I am taking the first flight home,” he said.

A few people travelled long distances only to find that their flights had been cancelled. Naik Satish Kumar’s Kolkata-bound flight got cancelled as the state decided not to resume operations till May 28.

However on late Sunday night it was agreed that there would be limited operation of commercial domestic flights starting on Monday from airports like Mumbai and Hyderabad. Maharashtra agreed to only 25 departures and arrivals each from Mumbai from Monday, which means a total of 50 flights. The Delhi-Mumbai route is the busiest in India.

There are expected to be only 15 departures and arrivals each from Hyderabad, a total of 30 flights. Also, there may be only about 10 flights to and from Kolkata (20 flights in all) as well as from Bagdogra airport in north Bengal from May 28 onwards. Just one-fifth of the summer schedule of flights are likely to operate to and from Vijayawada and Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh from Tuesday (May 26), while only one-third of flights are expected to operate to parts of Maharashtra other than Mumbai.

The Union Health Ministry on Sunday issued domestic travel guidelines for travel by air, train and inter-state buses, saying only asymptomatic people will be allowed to travel after thermal screening at departure points. On arrival, they will once again be thermally screened. Those found asymptomatic can go with the advice to “self-monitor their health for 14 days”.

If anyone who develop symptoms, should inform the district authorities. Those with mild symptoms will have to home quarantine or isolation at a Covid care unit, the one with moderate or severe symptoms will be sent to a Covid care centre. Passengers were also “advised” to download the Arogya Setu app on their mobiles.

Under Vande Bharat Mission the passengers arrived from abroad by repatriation flights will have to undergo 14 days of mandatory quarantine, guidelines issued on Sunday for international arrivals.

Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray told civil aviation minister Hardeep Singh Puri that for now only the minimum possible domestic flights should be started, but the state government later relented to allow only 25 departures/arrivals each starting Monday.

Mr Puri tweeted late night Sunday that it had been “It has been a long day of hard negotiations with various state governments to recommence civil aviation operations in the country. Except Andhra Pradesh which will start on 26/5 & West Bengal on 28/5, domestic flights will recommence across the country from tomorrow. Starting tomorrow, there will be limited flights from Mumbai & as per approved ⅓ schedule from other airports in the state. Limited operations to West Bengal will commence on 28th May 2020. As per request of state government, operations in Andhra Pradesh will recommence on limited scale from 26 May. For Tamil Nadu there will be max 25 arrivals in Chennai but there’s no limit on number of departures.For other airports in TN flights will operate as in other parts of country.” adding that domestic flights will begin on Monday, including limited flights to Mumbai, except for Andhra Pradesh where it will be from Tuesday and and West Bengal on Thursday. He also added in Tamil Nadu there will be a maximum of 25 arrivals in Chennai, but there was no limit on the number of departures.


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