Monday, February 15, 2021

Goa crosses 100 relief flights since lockdown



Panaji: Goa International Airport has crossed the century mark for relief flights, while notching up a half-century for Vande Bharat flights since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. The airport, which has emerged as one of busiest terminals in the west zone, has come full circle from flights being grounded to becoming a hub for the Covid-19vaccine, director Gagan Malik said.While the terminal catered to 5.8 lakh arriving passengers in January, the airport has handled 103 relief flights, 72 repatriation flights and 54 VandeBharat flights. Relief flights are those that help foreigners and non-resident Indians return to foreign nations in the absence of scheduled international flights. Vande Bharat and repatriation flights are those that have been organised to bring back Goans and Indians stranded abroad because of the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns.

Domestic flights have also shown a steady increase, with 144 flights being handled on February 6 and 7. The daily passenger footfall has crossed the 22,000-mark. This weekend, when Valentine’s Day coincided with Carnival, saw domestic flights flying at full capacity even though airfares shot up significantly.

“The pandemic has not stopped any activity here at the airport, and in fact, we have increased the pace of upgradation at the terminal,” said Malik. From improving the aesthetics of the airport to bringing in infrastructure changes, the Airports Authority of India has pumped in additional funds to improve the passenger experience, he said.

As on February 14, Goa International Airport handled a total of 103 relief flights for stranded foreign nationals and Indians by sending 17,616 adults and children to destinations all around the world — Israel, Russia, Finland,Germany, France, Poland, UK, USA, Italy, Armenia, Belarus, Ukraine,Mongolia, Switzerland, UAE and Qatar.

Most of these flights are being operated under the air bubble agreement that India has with select nations.

As on February 14, the airport also handled 72 repatriation flights from destinations such as UAE, Qatar, Kuwait, Barbados, Italy, UK, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Brazil, Mongolia, Netherlands, and Egypt, and a total of 11,120 passengers have been brought back to Goa and India since the lockdown.

15/02/21 Newton Sequeira/Times of India

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