Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Flyers, airlines grapple with new rules; glitches and lack of transport on day 1 of flights resumption

New Delhi: India’s stricken aviation industry on Monday overcame last-minute government flip-flops and mass cancellations to successfully ferry a disparate group of passengers including adults, teenagers and even a young kid who travelled alone to their destinations on the first full day of normal flight operations after a two-month shutdown. But the day was also marked by uncertainty and chaos at airports as airlines, acting on last-minute instructions from the government, cancelled nearly half the flights that were supposed to depart leaving many irate passengers in the lurch.
Airports resembled hospital wards as passengers and air crew donned full face masks and other protective gear with the Covid-19 scare continuing to paralyse most parts of the country and its economy. India’s airlines flew only 532 flights and 39,231 passengers on Monday, which is over half of 830 flights approved by the government last week and a fifth of about 2,500 daily flights before the shutdown in March.
Indigo alone operated about 240 flights on Monday. Airlines said the operations were handled well considering the short span of time the government gave them to restart flights.
“Operations appear to have been handled well by airports and airlines, no thanks to the government that only created confusion and obstacles,” said an airlines executive on condition of anonymity.
In a change of stance late on Sunday, the government slashed the number of flights airlines can operate following objections by various states. This forced airlines to cancel about 410 flights with a few hours remaining for operations to resume. Many passengers got SMSes and emails after midnight and early on Monday morning while some others were informed only at the airport.
26/05/20 Anirban Chowdhury/Mihir Mishra/Economic Times
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