Monday, August 10, 2020

Three charter flights to end international lull at Kolkata airport

Kolkata: Three charter flights from the UAE, scheduled to land in Kolkata between August 13 and 15, are set to end a month-long lull in international flight arrivals at the Kolkata airport.
The state had halted repatriation flights to the city on July 1, citing rising Covid infections. On Friday, it eased the restrictions by allowing international charter flights to operate with only Covid-negative passengers.
Two days after the government gave the green light, private carrier IndiGo received requisitions for the three flights: from Dubai on August 13, Abu Dhabi on August 14 and Sharjah on August 15.

The airline has asked the charter operator to ensure that all passengers comply with the precondition of a Covid-negative test, which has to be conducted within a 96-hour window prior to departure. That means, those boarding the August 13 flight have to be tested after August 9. “We are getting a lot of queries since the Bengal government announced a revision in its policy and allowed charter flights. As many as eight to 10 flights are proposed between August 13 and 31,” said an airline official.

Other airlines like Emirates, SpiceJet and Accretion Aviation Services are also in the process of initiating international charter flights, said an industry insider.

IndiGo officials said the flights were slotted after part payments were received. The airline will now require approvals from UAE authorities, the ministry of external affairs in India and the state government. “The approval-seeking process has been initiated. If we get the approvals in three days, the flights would be on course,” said the official.

The embargo on Vande Bharat flights continues. But the easing of norms comes as a breather to those from Bengal and other eastern states, who have been stranded across the world for over four months now.

While the charter proposal has been welcomed, there are apprehensions that stranded Indians who are at the end of their tether would have to pay through their nose to fly back home, as there are no caps on charter flight fares.
10/08/20 Tamaghna Banerjee/Times of India
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