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Domestic flight services resume in India after two months

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After a gap of two months, India on Monday resumed domestic flight services that were suspended amid the coronavirus pandemic to contain the spread of the virus.

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 a 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 airlines 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.

The government last week announced the resumption of the domestic flight services from May under specific rules and guidelines like a cap on ticket pricing, wearing of face masks by passengers, no food served onboard 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 about the Centre’s decision to start 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.

Coronavirus Pandemic: With over 1.38 lakh cases & 4,000 deaths, India tenth most affected nation