Domestic flights resume, but cancellations upset flyers

Domestic flights resume, but cancellations upset passengers in Bengaluru

A airport staff being screened outside Kempegowda International Airport, amid the ongoing nationwide COVID-19 lockdown, in Bengaluru, Sunday, May 24, 2020. (Credit: PTI Photo)

As domestic flight operations resumed at the Kempegowda International Airport (KIA) here early Monday morning, cancellation of about 30 departing flights had passengers frustrated. Nearly two months after suspension, the first flight, an AirAsia India service to Ranchi took off at 5.15 am.  

For latest updates and live news on coronavirus, click here

Institutional quarantine mandated by the Karnataka government for passengers arriving from Red Zone cities was what triggered the last-minute cancellations. But this threw apart the plans of several travellers who had booked tickets. 

A frustrated passenger, Rishabh Agarwal said, “Air India Flight AI516, Bengaluru to Hyderabad, was cancelled at the last moment after travelling 60 km to the airport. People are suffering because of improper planning by governments and airlines.” 

The first flight to touch down at KIA was an IndiGo plane from Chennai at around 8.00 am. However, it took over 150 passengers more than an hour and a half to step out of the terminal as they had to go through all the mandatory checks.  

Among the arriving passengers was a five-year-old, Vihaan Sharma. His mother, who had been anxiously waiting outside said the boy had returned after three months. He had travelled alone from Delhi. 

Most passengers echoed her sentiment, saying they were happy that they were finally able to head home after several weeks of waiting. They were also impressed by the safety and social-distancing arrangements inside the airport. By 9 am, the airport recorded five arrivals and 17 departures. 

A total of 60 departures and 54 arrivals were scheduled for Monday, the Bangalore International Airport Limited (BIAL) informed. As many as 215 Air Traffic Movement (ATM) slots including 108 departures and 107 arrivals had been allotted. The flights had to depart every 10 minutes. 

Incoming passengers from red zone areas were shifted to hotels for seven days of institutional quarantine. About 40 flights were scheduled to arrive from Red Zone cities, and 55 from Green Zone cities across the country. 

After the mandatory thermal screening and checks, the Red Zone passengers boarded Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) buses specially arranged for commuting to the quarantine hotels. Ten BMTC buses and ten ambulances were stationed at the airport. 

Departing passengers were all subjected to thermal screening, given masks and sanitisers before they went through contact-less security and baggage check-in process. Announcements were made repeatedly both inside the terminal and outside to maintain social-distancing and follow all the standard operating procedures. 

To ensure safety, BIAL had arranged a tech-enabled contactless parking-to-boarding process at KIA. For instance, at the pre-embarkation security check, passengers had to scan the boarding pass at a kiosk and put all belongings in the tray before going through the body scanner. Trays were being sanitised after every use.

Body scanning was done using Door Frame Metal Detectors (DFMD). Stamping of the boarding pass was suspended, as directed by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA). 

Get a round-up of the day's top stories in your inbox

Check out all newsletters

Get a round-up of the day's top stories in your inbox