India resumed civil passenger flight services on Monday, exactly two-months after it had suspended these operations due to the outbreak of Covid-19.
The Delhi airport saw its first departure at 4.45 am to Pune while Mumbai airport's first departure was at 6.45 am to Patna, the officials said.
The first passenger flight from Delhi airport IndiGo 6E643 departed for Pune, while the first domestic passenger flight to arrive at Delhi on Monday was from Ahmedabad and it was of SpiceJet, the officials said.
The re-commencement of services comes a day after massive spike in ticket cancellations, along with a drop in bookings, was reported by the aviation industry for Monday's flights as several states had moved to limit air operations.
Many states like Maharashtra, West Bengal and Tamil Nadu were opposed to opening up of their airports in view of rising cases of the coronavirus infection, making it difficult for the airlines as well as the civil aviation authorities to resume services. Other states had come up with their own set of rules and conditions.
In the midst of uncertainty and confusion, representatives of airline and several states held multiple meetings with top officials of the Civil Aviation Ministry on Sunday covering a range of contentious issues like quarantine rules for flyers and standard operating procedures for leading airports, officials said.
Following negotiations, it has been decided that Mumbai airport will deal with only 50 domestic flights per day from Monday while the Kolkata and Bagdogra airports in West Bengal will handle domestic services from May 28. Airports in Andhra Pradesh will resume operations from Tuesday, May 26.
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The government last week announced resumption of the domestic flight services from May under specific rules and guidelines like cap on ticket pricing, wearing of face masks by passengers, no food served on board planes and making available details of medical conditions by travellers through Aarogya Setu app or by filling up of a self-declaration form.
However, many states expressed serious reservations to the Centre's decision to start the flight services. Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Bihar, Punjab, Assam and Andhra Pradesh have announced their respective quarantine measures for passengers arriving at their airports. Some states decided to put passengers on mandatory institutional quarantine while several others talked about putting them under home quarantine. Here are the different operating procedure’s issued by different states.
All scheduled commercial passenger flights were suspended in India since March 25 when the Centre imposed a lockdown to contain the virus.
Following the announcement of domestic flights resumption, the Airports Authority of India on Thursday issued (SOP) for airports as part of preparations for the recommencement of domestic commercial flight operations.
According to the SOPs, airports have been advised to ensure that passenger seating arrangement shall be done in such a manner so as to maintain social distancing among passengers using chairs by blocking those seats that are not to be used, with proper markers/tapes.
All passengers also must compulsorily be registered with the Aarogya Setu app on their phones as per the directives.
Apart from this, alternate check-in counters should be used to avoid congestion. The airport staff must be provided PPE kits, face masks etc, and should also be provided with hand sanitisers.
(With agency inputs)