Domestic flights resume from Bengaluru airport, cautiously

Bengaluru, May 25 (IANS) Domestic flights of a few airlines resumed from this tech city on a cautious note after they were grounded for over 2 months due to Covid-19 induced extended lockdown, an official said on Monday.

“The first flight of Air Asia took off at 5.35 a.m. to Ranchi in Jharkhand with 173 passengers and an Indigo flight from Chennai was the first to land at 7.30 a.m.,” the airport operator official told IANS here.

Till 9.00 a.m., 17 flights departed to various destinations and 5 landed from other cities.

“About 60 departures and 54 arrivals are scheduled for the first day of domestic operations by different airlines from the Kempegowda international airport,” the official said.

With the Karnataka government making 7-day institutional quarantine mandatory for passengers flying from the 6 most Covid-hit states, many fliers are learnt to be wary of rushing to the city, as they don’t want to be ‘stranded’ again in a hotel or hostel booked for a week-long compulsory stay.

The 6 most Covid-hit states are Maharashtra, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Delhi, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh.

Passengers from low Covid prevalence cities or states will have to be in 14-day home quarantine.

In the first five hours of operations since 5 a.m., delays in departures and arrivals occurred due to teething troubles and in following the stringent standard operating procedures stipulated by the state-run Airport Authority of India.

Some flights, including an Air India service to Hyderabad were suddenly cancelled without prior notice to the passengers.

The airport operator – Bangalore International Airline Ltd (BIAL) has geared up to handle around 215 air traffic movements a day, including 108 departures and 107 arrivals.

“Airlines have been allotted slots to depart every 10 minutes,” said an official of a budget carrier.

Air India, Indigo, SpiceJet, Vistara and Air Asia are among the airlines allowed to operate one-third of their services under the new guidelines, including social distancing, wearing of mask and washing hands with sanitizers.

As the third busiest airport after Mumbai and New Delhi in normal times, the country’s first greenfield airport under the public-private partnership has been functional even during the extended lockdown, with cargo services by domestic and international airlines and inbound/outbound evacuation flights since March-end.

“As per standard operating procedure, only asymptomatic passengers who have downloaded the Aarogya Setu app and booked the air ticket online will be allowed into the airport on showing an e-boarding pass or its printed version at the entrance and after thermal screening and hand washing with sanitiser, asserted the official.

For the first time, the movement of passengers for departure from parking to boarding will be contactless to maintain physical distancing and avoid risk of touching any surface in the airport.

“Even sanitiser-dispensers will be touch-free in the airport terminal. So also food and beverage service and retail sales in the departure lounge.

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