Saturday, May 09, 2020

Flights from Kolkata unlikely to start right after curbs ease

Kolkata: Flights from Kolkata are unlikely to take off right after the lockdown on flights is lifted. Sources in the civil aviation industry indicated that flights post lockdown would initially operate between smaller airports to ensure regional connectivity between tier-III towns, which are in the green zone. It is only thereafter that airports in tier-II cities in the orange zone and finally, those in metro cities, including Kolkata, that are in the red zone, will start operations.

However, several private carriers opened their portals on Friday for booking tickets from June 1, leading to hope that flights grounded for a month and a half will take off soon. Though airlines had opened sales during the first lockdown as well, they were censured by the civil aviation minister. Thereafter, tickets sold for travel during lockdown 2.0 and 3.0 were refunded by airlines.

“If the lockdown is extended, tickets sold for travel during the period will be refunded. But the fact that airlines have commenced sales hints at some kind of communication with industry regulator DGCA,” a travel trade industry source said.

However, with airlines refusing to refund tickets purchased before the lockdown for travel during the lockdown, the Travel Agents Federation of India has urged the Supreme Court to intervene. The refund due is pegged at Rs 800 crore-Rs 900 crore.

If flights resume operations on June 1, it will be after nine weeks. A private airline official said the company was ready to commence services and was sanitizing aircraft and coaches and briefing employees on safe travel guidelines and SOPs that had been drawn up to ensure distancing norms.
09/05/20 Times of India
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