Tuesday, May 26, 2020

More private airlines ready to jump on evacuation bandwagon to bring Keralites home

Even as COVID-19 cases have started climbing steadily in the state after the return of people from outside Kerala, more private airlines are ready to jump on the evacuation bandwagon.

After Air India and its subsidiary Air India Express and private airline Indigo, now Spicejet, Vistara and GoAir have received permission to operate evacuation flights to Kerala from foreign countries, chiefly from West Asia. Though Air India Express and Indigo have announced that they would operate 38 and 97 services respectively to Kerala from May 26 to June 13, other private airlines are yet to announce their decisions.

There has been intense lobbying for hiking the airfare for evacuation as private airlines have been saying that they get only 10 per cent extra of the operational revenue if services are operated as per the present cost cap of Rs 13k. Only one-sided traffic is allowed which is just sufficient to meet the operational expense of the aircraft.

According to sources, these private airlines are likely to be allowed to slap handling and processing charges which is expected to give them Rs 2,000 more per passenger. A formal decision on airfare of private airlines along with other details would be announced by the Ministry of Civil Aviation in a couple of days.

A senior Air India officer said allowing private airlines would certainly bring more people into the state in a short period and more cargo operations would be carried out as the DGCA has already given permission to airlines to start cargo operations in passenger aircraft in approved stowage locations such as closets and overhead bins of the passenger compartment, provided the load limitations are met. But this would certainly bring more COVID-19 cases to the state.
26/05/20  Dhinesh Kallungal/New Indian Express

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