DAY 1: Chaos at Delhi airport as 82 flights get cancelled

Long queues of passengers seen at Terminal-3, with many complaining that their flights have been cancelled with no prior notice from the airlines.

Chaos and mismanagement followed the first day of domestic flights resuming at Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport. The operations began with 82 flights getting cancelled (both departure and arrivals) due to nonpreparedness of some states and some others not agreeing for full operations in the beginning.

In the evening Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri took to a social media platform and tweeted, “From no domestic passenger flights yesterday to 532 flights and 39,231 passengers today, action has returned to Indian skies. With AP set to resume operations from tomorrow and West Bengal from 28th May these numbers are set to increase.”

However, long queues of passengers outside Delhi airport’s Terminal-3 told a different story as several passengers complained that their flights were cancelled with no prior notice from the airlines. A group of four boys from Haryana who came to IGI Airport with a ticket to Kolkata were clueless after the West Bengal government on Sunday requested the Central government to resume the flights operations from 28 May, instead of 25 May, due to cyclone disaster in the state.

One of the passengers Ahasanul Hoque said, “We work in Haryana and waiting for lockdown to end to go back, so we booked our tickets, with the help of an agent, worth Rs 5,600 each, with total cost of four tickets amounting to Rs 21,624 which we paid in cash. After coming to Delhi we got to know that till 28 May there is no flight to Bengal. Now we don’t know what to do.” Another passenger Sumit said, “I was happy that finally we were going home, but at the airport when our boarding passes were scanned at the entry we were told that boarding has been cancelled. We don’t know what to do now.”

Airlines sources told The Daily Guardian that the cancellations were on account of several states telling the Centre that they will not be able to operate flights agreed upon earlier. On Day 1, Indigo was operating the maximum flights with 210, SpiceJet 81, Air Asia 38, Vistara 20 and Air India 20, among others. Meanwhile, the first passenger flight from Delhi Airport was IndiGo 6E643 departed for Pune in the early morning, while the first arrival at Delhi was from Ahmedabad, a SpiceJet flight.

All scheduled commercial passenger flights were suspended on 25 March, when the Centre imposed a nationwide lockdown to t h e C o v i d – 1 9 pandemic. It was announced last Thursday that one-third of domestic flights will operate from Monday. On the first day of the domestic operations, all passengers were seen wearing gloves and face masks. They were screened before entering the airport. The maintenance staff was ensuring effective sanitisation and disinfection at the airport.