NEW DELHI: The resumption of domestic flight operations on Monday after a two-month gap got off to a turbulent start with 630 flights being cancelled and passengers kept in the dark about the decision. As a result, thousands of fliers across many cities were left in the lurch when they reached the airport, only to find out that their flights were not taking to the skies.
“My flight was scheduled at 5.30 am and I reached the Delhi airport early enough. It was during the screening that the officials said my flight has been cancelled. I’ve come all the way from Faridabad and the next flight is tomorrow morning. I am still trying to figure out the procedures. I don’t have any relatives nearby, so I have to wait here,” said a passenger who did not wish to be named.
Delhi reported the highest number of cancellations at 80. The IGI airport was scheduled to handle a total of 125 departures and 118 arrivals on Monday. While officials blamed states like West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh that withdrew their consent for operations, sources said low passenger load factor was also a major factor for cancellations. An industry source said many flights were carrying less than 80 passengers. The decision by states to enforce a 14-day quarantine also led to a lukewarm response from travellers.
Civil aviation minister Hardeep Singh Puri tweeted that 532 flights operated on Monday carrying 39,231 passengers.
Many air passengers took to Twitter to air their woes. A flier from Mumbai, Devendra Nath Tripathi, tweeted, “AI 809 cancelled without notice from Mumbai.. kindly confirm the next schedule.. there is total anarchy at Mum Airport.. no announcement no water no toilet. What is the GOI doing ??”
The scene was no different in Bengaluru. M Raja, a porter from Kolar, said, “I started at 12 am to reach Bengaluru early in the morning for a flight to Goa by Air Asia. My 10-year-son is in Goa. I have also booked a return ticket at 2 pm by Indigo. Only when I reached the airport did Air Asia let me know my flight was cancelled. I’ve spent Rs 4,570 to book onward and Rs 9,413 for return tickets. Now Air Asia will keep my money in a credit account. If I cancel my Indigo ticket, I will get Rs 2,500 only.”
Dr Sreedevi C, a PG student at Hyderabad’s Nizam’s Institute of Medical Sciences, is worried as she won’t be able to report for the start of the PG programme on time. “We reached the Bengaluru airport at 5.30 am for the 8 am flight (AI 516), but our flight was cancelled. If they had informed us through SMS or mail, we would have booked tickets through another airline. It is tough to get a PG seat in medicine. We now stand to lose it for no fault of ours,” she rued.