Sunday, May 24, 2020

Domestic passenger flights to resume Monday amid confusion as several states set their own rules

New Delhi: Indian skies will open up for domestic passenger flights from Monday after a gap of two months but there was confusion following the imposition of own set of conditions and rules by several states which are at odds with each other.
Many states like Maharashtra, West Bengal and Tamil Nadu were opposed to opening up of their airports in view of rising cases of the coronavirus infection, making it difficult for the airlines as well as the civil aviation authorities to resume services.
Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal are home to some of the busiest airports in terms of passenger traffic.
Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh said on Twitter on Sunday that it is "extremely ill-advised" to reopen airports in red zones.
Echoing similar sentiments, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said she will urge the Centre to postpone the resumption of domestic flight services at Kolkata and Bagdogra airports by a few days.
On Sunday afternoon, AirAsia India said on Twitter that all passengers must read the health protocols of the destination states and it would "not be responsible for repatriating or bearing any quarantine or related costs of any guests".
In the midst of uncertainty and confusion, representatives of airlines and several states held multiple meetings with top officials of the Civil Aviation Ministry on Sunday covering a range of contentious issues like quarantine rules for flyers and standard operating procedures for leading airports, officials said.
The focus of the deliberations was to have uniform quarantine rules following the announcement of separate conditions by various state governments. However, it is not immediately clear whether uniform quarantine rules as envisaged could be finalised in the meetings.
Officials said the first flight on Monday is scheduled to depart from Mumbai for Patna at 4.20 AM. Similarly, the first flight from Delhi airport would depart for Kolkata at 4.30 AM. Both flights are from IndiGo airline.
At the same time, they did not rule out a change in the schedule if the West Bengal government unilaterally decides not to allow flight operations.
As airlines were making preparations to resume their operation, scores of pilots and first officers PTI spoke to seem to be concerned about the lack of clarity on quarantine requirements for them. Many of them raised concerns over issues like quarantine procedures, personal and family safety, and flying into regions badly hit by the pandemic.
24/05/20 PTI/Economic Times

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