Air travel resumes but with chaos, confusion and mismanagement
Domestic airlines took-off on Monday with a bumpy resumption. After two months of staying grounded as COVID-19 lockdown started on March 24, the domestic flights started operations on Monday ferrying about 39,000 passengers on 532 flights.
But a large number of passengers were left disappointed and stranded at airports as many flights were canceled just a few hours before the takeoff. Airlines were reportedly forced to cancel about half of the scheduled flights as a result of poor coordination between the States and the Centre.
Many passengers were left frustrated with last-minute cancellations due to mismanagement from the authorities. Later on Sunday, airlines were told to curb many flights as states of Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and Telangana, with the busiest airports in-country, Chennai, Mumbai, and Hyderabad, limited the number of operational flights.
Furthermore, West Bengal postponed the airlines’ resumption to May 28 due to Cyclone Amphan. Andhra Pradesh too curtailed the re-opening to May 26.
In a tweet on Monday post the airlines resumed their operations, Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Puri wrote, “From no domestic passenger flights yesterday to 532 flights and 39,231 passengers today, action has returned to Indian skies. With Andhra Pradesh set to resume operations from tomorrow and West Bengal from 28 May, these numbers are all set to increase further.”
As contrary to what airlines were expecting, the occupancy in flights was just around 25% to 50%. This was a surprise as it was expected that flights would be full especially as people are stranded in various states. In fact, the people who did decide to travel, however reluctantly, faced disappointment amid the confusion due to cancellations.
With domestic airlines resuming operations after two months, the airport staff had their hands full trying to maintain the smooth functioning of flights and reservations.
The travelers were further led to misery when instead of being refunded for canceled flights, they were offered credit shells.
Due to poor coordination between states and the Center, only 50% of the sanctioned number of flights operated on day 1.
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