Thursday, May 06, 2021

RT-PCR air-pocket awaits flyers; carriers to slash flights as traffic crash fear looms

Kolkata: Airlines fear the already poor flight loads will plummet to unsustainable levels from Saturday once the rule for mandatory RT-PCR tests for all incoming passengers kicks in. Daily traffic has already crashed from 40,000-45,000 in February-end to 20,000-25,000 in April-end to 10,000-15,000 now and the flight count will also go down. While RT-PCR tests are currently required for flyers bound for Kolkata, Bagdogra and Andal from Delhi, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Telangana and Kerala, from Saturday, May 8, all passengers will have to furnish the RT-PCR negative report before boarding any Bengal-bound flight.

If a person lands without an RT-PCR report, the passenger will be quarantined for 14 days and will be required to pay for it.

“Mandatory RT-PCR test for flyers will increase the load on over-stretched diagnostic laboratories. With many patients having to wait 96 hours for reports, it will be extremely difficult to get a test done, let alone obtain a result within 72 hours. This could bring down the travel figure to 5,000-6,000 from next week,” an airline official said.

Carriers have also begun clubbing flights to reduce operational losses. The flight count at Kolkata airport has reduced from 230 last month to 154 on Wednesday and is expected to dip further next week.

Airlines were flooded with calls on Wednesday with anxious passengers inquiring about where to get RT-PCR tests done, particularly those set to travel from smaller cities in the north-east and Port Blair where getting the test done is a challenge. There is also confusion over whether RT-PCR test is required after Indian Medical Council of Research issued an advisory stating that RT-PCR test was not required for healthy individuals travelling from one state to another.

While acknowledging the need to ensure safety first, travel agents called for rapid antigen tests (RAT) on arrival as a viable solution.

06/05/21 Subhro Niyogi & Tamaghna Benerjee/Times of India

To Read the News in full at Source, Click the Headline


Post a Comment