Saturday, May 23, 2020

Kolkata airport to resume operations with 93 flights slated for take-off on Monday

Kolkata: The civil aviation regulator has released a provision schedule for a whopping 93 fights out of Kolkata on Monday, the first day of domestic flights resuming operations after they were grounded on March 24 to prevent the spread of novel coronavirus. Those stranded outside the city, and those from outside stuck in Kolkata, have been waiting for an opportunity to return home. But an initial lukewarm response to the flights, primarily due to concerns over Covid, has led to apprehensions that several flights may ultimately be either clubbed or cancelled.
Kolkata airport authorities, as well as members of the travel trade community, had expected to restart operations with 30-40 flights out of the city and a steady ramp up thereafter. But the provision list of 93 flights issued by Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has taken everyone by surprise. Though travel agents in the city said they were glad to be back in business and have customers actually pay for tickets rather than just demand refund, they were also apprehensive that too many flights had been announced at a time when demand was based only on emergency travel.

“The response to opening of ticket sales has been lukewarm. Only those with emergency requirement will travel. People are still wary of Covid-19 and reluctant to fly. Most companies have made online meetings a norm and corporate travel has reduced,” said Gainwell Travels MD Manoj Saraf.

Anil Punjabi, managing director of AR-ES Travels and chairman of the eastern region chapter of Travel Agents Federation of India (TAFI), said the government decision to not keep the middle seat empty could also have spooked some. “An American citizen who has to fly to Delhi and then take a Vande Bharat flight next week was initially keen on taking the flight. But after learning that passengers would sit shoulder to shoulder, he wants to do the journey by car. That will cost him Rs 40,000-Rs 50,000, four-five times the flight fare,” he said.
23/05/20 Times of India
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