NEW DELHI: During the nationwide lockdown, thousands of Indian stranded aboard were flown back to the country from across the world and several foreigners were also sent to their countries. To facilitate their safe travel, Delhi airport served as one the largest transit points, which handled about 92 international flights connecting 28 destinations for the first time.
The list includes several long-haul routes such as Auckland, Christchurch and Wellington in New Zealand, Brisbane in Australia, Cairo and Marsa Alam in Egypt, Domodedovo in Russia, Dublin in Ireland, Ankara in Turkey, Hamburg-Finkenwerder in Germany, Johannesburg in South Africa, Manila in the Philippines, Phnom Penh in Cambodia, and Ras Al Khaimah in UAE.
As several of these international cities have high tourism potential, the airport authorities are hopeful that after the successful resumption of international flight operations at Delhi airport post-COVID-19 lockdown may attract airlines to add them to their scheduled service routes with direct connectivity from the city.
Videh Kumar Jaipuriar, chief executive officer (CEO) of Delhi International Airport Limited (DIAL) said that the dynamics of travel and tourism industry are a key driver for socio-economic progress, therefore, his top strategies are to create a window of opportunity by enabling easy and convenient travel while abiding by the new normal and increase the credibility of tourism.
"Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, travel is one among the worst affected industries today. We hope to kick back and defeat the pandemic in the remaining few months to uplift the economy and boost tourism. DIAL continues to pave the way by building confidence and encouraging people to travel by air. We have been following all the precautionary protocols to comply with COVID-19 safety measures while handling the evacuation operation during the lockdown," said Jaipuriar.
During the first two months of lockdown, at least 8,000 passengers were ferried to their respective destinations from the airport or brought to the city in 92 flights. The first repatriation flight from Delhi was sent to Sofia (Bulgaria) on March 27. Maximum departures were set for Indonesia as more than 1,800 passengers repatriated through the Airport.
"In addition to three Indian carriers — Air India, Indigo and SpiceJet, several international airlines were handled at the Delhi airport that had never touched its ground earlier. These are BH Air, SCAT Airlines, Garuda Indonesia, Lion Airlines, Cambodia Angkor Air, Lanmei Airlines, Egyptair, Niger Air, Air New Zealand, Air Peace Limited, Qantas Airways, South African Airways and Brussels Airlines, which largely operated from Delhi Airport for evacuating passengers," said the official.