80 Flights Cancelled on First Day Domestic Flights Resume in India After Two-Month Hiatus
New Delhi (Sputnik): India suspended domestic and international air travel starting 25 March as a containment measure to mitigate COVID-19. The federal government has, however, announced the reopening of domestic flights on a limited scale and rolled out guidelines for passengers and airlines, despite corona cases now breaking daily records.
As many as 80 flights scheduled for Monday were cancelled at Delhi's Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGI). The cancellations include both arrivals and departures.
Speaking to Indian news agency ANI, passengers said that they came to know about the cancellation of their flights only after reaching the airport.
Prima facie, the reason for the flight cancellations was a cap by some states on the number of flights that can arrive or take off from a particular airport. The majority of the flights were also to and from West Bengal, which was recently ravaged by super cyclone Amphan.
Some states had also expressed expressed reluctance over the federal government's "hurried" decision to resume domestic operations as COVID-19 cases were continuing unabated every day.
A day before the resumption of air services, several state governments rolled out SOPs stipulating the number of flights that could land or depart from airports in those states, and also quarantine norms for incoming passengers.
While Kerala made a 14-day home quarantine mandatory for incoming passengers regardless of the passenger's origin, Karnataka made 14-day quarantine, equally divided in institutional and home quarantine, compulsory for passengers coming from "high prevalence states" such as Maharashtra, Delhi, and Tamil Nadu.
Meanwhile Maharashtra, which has the highest number of confirmed cases (50,231), has restricted the number takeoffs and landings from Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport in Mumbai to 25.
On 20 May, the federal Civil Aviation Ministry announced the resumption of domestic flights from 25 May. On Sunday, Aviation Minister Hardeep Puri said the government is hopeful of resuming international flight services before July if the situation normalises.
As of Monday, the COVID-19 caseload in the country was 138,845, including 57,721 recoveries and 4,021 deaths according to data released by the federal Health Ministry.