Saturday, August 22, 2020

Kolkata airport officials offer food and shelter to stranded flyers

Kolkata: Moved by the plight of passengers stuck at the airport on the two back-to-back lockdown days, the authorities on Friday reached out to them with food and water. They moved them out of the stinking and damp area outside the parking lot they had been camping in since Thursday, took them to a cleaner place and opened the terminal for them to spend the night on Friday, given the rain outside.
TOI on Friday reported about nine passengers from neighbouring states—some of them headed for Trivandrum and some Andaman—who were unaware of suspension of flights owing to the Bengal lockdown and had to spend the night at the airport’s parking lot without proper food and water as they were allegedly asked by police to move out of the airport terminal area. Adding to their woes, the airlines they were booked on told them it would be difficult to arrange for replacement tickets before next week owing to the packed weekend flights. “We are poor people but we are not used to sleeping on the road without food and water. We had a tough time on Thursday night but thanks to the airport authorities, we were given proper lunch and dinner, along with water, tea and snacks. We could also sleep in a clean place inside the airport terminal. Our agent never told us about flights being suspended for the lockdown in Bengal. We left our village in Bihar in a hired a car on Wednesday to reach the airport early on Thursday. Our flight was to leave at 9.45am on Thursday,” said Lakshman Ghosh, heading to Trivandrum via Bangalore to join as a gym instructor.

Like on Thursday, no passenger flight operated out of Kolkata airport on Friday. Some airport employees were seen sanitizing the deserted terminal but most airline as well as airport staffers were off duty as they were told not to report to work on lockdown days. However, around noon, a group of airport officials arrived to arrange for food and water for the stranded passengers. “This is the least we could do for them. The lockdown days and the cancellation of flights were announced long ago. But we could not just let the few, who were unaware of the lockdown, fend for themselves amid the pandemic, restrictions and the bad weather. Arrangements have been made for their stay inside the terminal on Friday night,” said airport director Kaushik Bhattacharjee.
22/08/20 Tamaghna Banerjee/Times of India
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