Kolkata Airport resumes ops with 11 flights, serves about 3,000 flyers

Passengers in protective gear at Delhi International Airport on Monday. Photo: Dalip Kumar
After a gap of two months, passenger air services resumed in Kolkata on Thursday as 11 flights landed and took off from the city in a staggered mode after the state government consented to domestic air travel.

“Eleven flights took off and landed in the airport today”, Kaushik Bhattacharjee, director at Kolkata airport, christened Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport, said.

A total of 1,745 passengers arrived at the airport and 1,214 passengers flew out from the city. The first flight from Kolkata left for Guhawati at 6.05am with 40 passengers, whereas 122 passengers landed in Kolkata from New Delhi on Thursday morning.

Sources said usually Kolkata airport handles around 240 flights daily but owing to the Covid-19 situation and the state government’s request to keep the number of flights at the bare minimum as it is channeling its resources to fight the aftermath of the Amphan cyclone, the number of flights have been staggered.

Airport sources said the original intent was to have 80 departures and arrivals from the airport but it was toned down in view of the current situation in the state.

Although flight operations across the country had resumed on May 25, it couldn’t resume in Kolkata and Bagdogra – the two major airports in the state as the state government was unwilling.

The city’s airport, however, has been operational for cargo movement during the lockdown and also handled international departures for foreigners. For example, a Qatar Airways flight to Doha carrying 139 Australian citizens and 14 crew members had taken off from this airport on April 28 while a Russian chartered aircraft evacuating Russian nationals took off on May 21 after the cyclone.

An official at the Kolkata airport said that several safety precautions like sanitisers, thermal scanners and related equipment have been put in place and proper social distancing norms have been arranged for.

The airport authorities are encouraging light baggage and the wheels of such trolleys are cleansed once the person enters the airport.

The West Bengal government, which is battling the spread of Covid-19 apart from the devastating effects of the cyclone, has come up with guidelines as well for passengers. All passengers arriving in Kolkata are also required to sign a declaration about their health condition and travel history as well.

Apart from regular screening and sanitization norms, on arrival, health screening will be cumplusory for the passengers. Asymptomatic passengers will be permitted to go with the advice that they shall self monitor their health for 14 days.

Those, with moderate or severe symptoms, will be admitted to the dedicated Covid-19 health facility and managed accordingly while those having mild symptoms, will be asked to go for home or institutional isolation.

Samples will be collected for Covid-19 test from all symptomatic passengers. They will be taken to the nearest health facility for sample collection and health condition assessment.

These apart, the airport has also been advised to observe proper social distancing and sanitization norms and also provide adequate publicity for maintenance of social distancing norms and health hygiene protocol.

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