Passengers at the Rajiv Gandhi International Airport, Shamshabad, on Monday.  

Change in flight schedule catches passengers off guard at RGIA

Airport scheduled to handle 120 aircraft could operate only 39 flights


Day one of the domestic flight operations after two months of lockdown caught many passengers off guard on Monday morning following sudden change in scheduling late on Sunday night by the authorities.

At the Rajiv Gandhi International Airport, Shamshabad, passengers started arriving from 3 a.m. onwards to catch the morning flights at 5 a.m. as they were asked to report three hours early due to new COVID-19 guidelines. However, to their rude shock they were informed about the cancellation.

One early flight was supposed to leave for Lucknow. Even as passengers booked for other flights to different destinations started arriving, came the news that Air India had ‘cancelled’ all its morning flights. For a couple of hours there was confusion and uncertainty as passengers got into arguments with the security and airport staff. “We were not informed about the cancellation and are now stuck here not knowing what to do,” bemoaned a Delhi-bound woman passenger.

Authorities here too could not explain much as they had no clue if the airlines cancelled due to some reason or if it was a government order. “ We got stuck here during lockdown and booked tickets couple of days ago. We were told about flight cancellation only after reaching the airport. Different quarantine rules are adding to problem,” said another passenger.

Order was restored once the flights started taking off and landing after a while even as Chief Secretary Somesh Kumar accompanied by Airport CEO SGK Kishore, arrived all of a sudden to check the arrangements at the airport.

The airport was originally scheduled to handle up to 120 incoming and outgoing flights and the authorities were all geared up with the brand new ‘contact-less, social distancing, complete sanitised” terminals. However, it turned out that the number of arrivals and departures were restricted to just 40 - 20 incoming and 20 outgoing in a decision taken late in the night following apprehensions raised by the State Governments about sudden influx of people from other places.

“Today as per the estimated flight schedule, the airport is going to handle 20 departures and 19 arrivals the entire day with an approximate passenger load of around 3,000 for both arrivals and departures. This is likely to be the schedule for the next few days,” informed an official spokesman.

The first flight to depart was TruJet’s 2T 623 at 8.06 a.m. with 12 passengers on board to Vidyanagar in Karnataka while the AirAsia India I5 1576 was the first arrival flight of the day, which landed at 8.20 a.m. from Bangalore with 106 passengers.

Other destinations were the flights to Mumbai, Bangaluru, Delhi, Jaipur ; Raipur (Chhattisgarh); Kolhapur (Maharashtra); Jharsuguda (Odisha); Kochi (Kerala); Surat (Gujarat); Ranchi (Jharkhand); Varanasi (UP); Belgaum (Karnataka); Ahmedabad; Chennai and Pune. Apart from TruJet, AirAsia India, IndiGo, Alliance Air, SpiceJet, Vistara and Air India operated flghts. All passengers were thermal scanned as per the safety procedures.