Flights resumption: States' rules put a damper on air travel schedules

Airports across the country saw 325 departures and 283 arrivals, with 41,673 passengers travelling until 5 pm on Tuesday, Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri tweeted.
On Tuesday, the second day of resumption of airline operations, the fog lifted over rules brought in by states regarding travel. However, this had an unintended consequence, as wary travellers decided to avoid states that had mandatory quarantine protocols.  

Airports across the country saw 325 departures and 283 arrivals, with 41,673 passengers travelling until 5 pm on Tuesday, Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri tweeted. 

The number of flights on Monday was 832, he said. The ministry clarified later that 428 passenger flights had been operated on Monday, carrying 30,550 passengers.

However, concerns remained, despite the increase in number of travellers and flights. Occupancy of aircraft remained around 50-55 per cent, said the executive of an airline. “One of our 180-seater aircraft operated with only 19 passengers,” he said.

In some cases, this resulted in airlines merging three flights into one, or cancelling them. 

For instance, at around 3 pm, Air India cancelled more than 20 flights across the country. “There is no point of flying with 60 per cent of aircraft empty. Keeping it grounded is much cheaper,” an official of Air India said. 

A senior Delhi Airport official said that by 6 pm, 25 flights had been cancelled. Total arrivals scheduled at the airport were 140 flights, while 137 flights were originally scheduled to depart from the Delhi Airport. 

The reason for the low enthusiasm, some people said, was states’ quarantine policies. “If the rules aren’t relaxed from June 1, that month will also be a washout,” a second airline executive said. 

Online travel portals, too, saw some cancellations. “With constantly evolving state quarantine protocols, we have seen a marginal increase of 4 per cent in enquiries from travellers who wish to cancel or reschedule their trips, but only for states that have imposed mandatory quarantine protocols. Despite this, the intent to travel to both metros and non-metros remains strong and we expect the situation to improve in the coming weeks, when there is more semblance of normalcy,” said Rajnish Kumar, co-founder at ixigo. 

The addition of some routes and relaxation in quarantine requirements at some destinations saw some improvement in booking numbers.  

“Vijayawada and Visakhapatnam were added with 10 flights from each. Flight loads have improved today (Tuesday) because of relaxation in quarantine for Mumbai travellers, (and we are) expecting [the first flight to] Kolkata on May 28. Flights to Bengaluru will be reduced by airlines as passengers are avoiding travel because of mandatory quarantine, (and) customers don’t know where they will be quarantined. Chennai e-pass website is down most of the time,” said Nishant Pitti, co-founder at EaseMyTrip. 

The portal saw some cancellations on Tuesday, but said overall figures were better than Monday. 

 


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