With D-day finally arriving for domestic flight operations in India, action seemed low-key at the Rajiv Gandhi International Airport (RGIA) here as number of flights were curtailed to around 10 per cent of normal days. The first flights to operate from the airport included a take-off and a landing between 8 am and 8.30 a.m. on Monday.
At 8.06 a.m. a Truejet 2T623 flight with 12 passengers onboard, took off from the RGIA to Vidyanagara in Karnataka — signalling the resumption of regular commercial flights, 2 months after they were suspended due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
A few minutes later, at 8.20 a.m. to be precise, the second flight of the day, an Air Asia 15 1576 flight touched down with 104 passengers from Bengaluru.
An Indigo flight 6E 913 flight from Kochi landed at 11.15 am.
Airport officials told IANS that 19 arrivals and 20 outgoing flights are scheduled for Wednesday from the RGIA, adding that the final numbers could vary as the day progresses.
Before the suspension of flights, RGIA used to have a daily air traffic movement of 480 domestic flights.
With physical distancing norms in place and passengers expected to strictly follow COVID-19 norms, the arrival and departure processes are taking longer than usual. But passengers are taking it in their stride.
A passenger arriving on the Bengaluru flight told IANS, “Its a relief to be able to fly again. The last two months have been hell as I was stuck in Bengaluru, where I had gone on business. I’m looking forward to meeting my family. These protocols are a necessary evil. A small price to pay for the freedom to travel!”
The Telangana government announced late Sunday that the travellers need not undergo a mandatory quarantine period of 14 days unless they are symptomatic. Official sources said that there is no quarantine for domestic passengers arriving in Hyderabad if they have no Covid-19 symptoms. They will have to self-monitor their health for 14 days as per the guidelines of the central ministry of health and family welfare.
Last-minute cancellations of flights resulted in dejection for some passengers arriving at the airport. Monday morning saw some passengers arrive at the airport only to find that their flight had been cancelled. A woman complained, however, since the volumes of passengers are low, things stayed in control. Flight information on the RGIA website indicated a number of cancelled flights.
Normal airport operations were suspended at Hyderabad since March 24, although there were some flights operated under the Vande Bharat Mission.