Confusion, chaos and cancellations at Delhi's IGI airport on day-1 of flight resumption
The airlines did not even inform us about it through text message or call, claimed many passengers who were left stranded at Delhi's IGI airport.by Munish Chandra Pandey
Delhi's Indira Gandhi International (IGI) airport resumed domestic flight services on Monday amid confusion, chaos and anger as passengers, crew members and ground staff grappled to adapt to the new normal.
At least 125 flights landed and 118 departed from Delhi airport on Monday. But 82 airplanes arriving and departing from Delhi were cancelled on Monday as domestic flights in India flew for the first time in nearly 60 days.
The airlines did not even inform us about it through text message or call, claimed many passengers who were left stranded by a last-minute cancellation. They made it to the airport only to realise that their flights had been cancelled.
Shyam, who booked on a flight to Dibrugarh in Assam, was visibly upset with the cancellation and said, "I came all the way from Agra after spending thousands. But after reaching the airport, I was told that my flight has been cancelled. If they would have informed in advance, we could have planned differently. The airline is not willing to provide an alternative and I cannot even book any other flight."
Dozens of passengers who had booked their flights from Delhi to Agartala, Hyderabad and Dibrugarh expressed anger over the cancellations.
But those who could fly could hardly contain their relief and excitement after being stranded in Delhi due to the lockdown.
Shafayat Ali had been in Delhi since March 20 along with his wife and 2-month-old child. He said, "I will be finally able to see my family after over two months. It is the best Eid for us as we will be celebrating with my entire family in Kashmir."
Despite people scrambling to get back home with their families, many flights operated below capacity.
The first flight to depart from Delhi to Pune took off at 4:45 am while the first in-bound flight landed around 8 am from Ahmedabad.
Under the new normal, the Delhi Airport witnessed contact-less check-in, social distancing between passengers, trollies being disinfected with sprinklers, restrooms being sanitised with UV rays, contactless drinking water, disinfection of bags using UV rays and thermal screening of passengers. While a few of the passengers came to the airport wearing PPE kits, most of the fliers were seen wearing masks, face shields and gloves.
Those departing from Delhi's T3 terminal had their baggage scanned by UV rays. They were screened and had to produce their tickets to the CISF personnel standing behind a glass shield.
The passengers were allowed to check-in and move to security after a quick check of their Aarogya Setu App. At each step, the staff ensured strict adherence to social distancing norms leading to long, serpentine queues.
Once the passengers boarded the flight, they were given face shields, sanitisers and masks by the airline and were instructed to minimise conversation with others.
"IndiGo operations ran smoothly and 85 per cent of our flights reached their final destination within 30 minutes of scheduled arrival time. There were no major delays or any other disruptions. IndiGo's flight operations will support more than 20,000 passengers to be home by tonight," the airline said in a statement.
Ajay Singh, Chairman and Managing Director, SpiceJet said, "We are delighted to have resumed our flight operations in a completely smooth and seamless manner and by following every safety guideline and protocol laid down by the government. I thank all stakeholders for their cooperation. This indeed is a new beginning in the lives of everyone associated with airlines, including passengers who have been eagerly waiting to return home."
A total of 532 flights operated across country with 39,231 passengers availing services. Flights to Andhra Pradesh are expected to resume from Tuesday whereas West Bengal will allow flights to land and depart from May 28 onwards.