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After two months since lockdown due to coronavirus, India has allowed airlines to restart domestic operations from today. But the resumption has led to utter chaos in the aftermath of multiple cancellations by airlines. Airlines held state governments responsible as they did not allow flights to operate to their states. Nearly 80 flights had to be cancelled today and passengers weren’t informed until they arrived at the airport.

Reports from the airport authorities concluded that the cancellations were because the state governments did not agree to reopen airports, which agreed to earlier. One such state West Bengal decided to reopen Kolkata and Bagdogra airports on 28 May sighting damage to infrastructure due to Cyclone Amphan. Other major airports such as Mumbai and Chennai have also decided to restart services in a calibrated manner. Only 25 departures and 25 arrivals would be allowed into these airports considering these cities account for the highest number of coronavirus cases.

Delhi Airport T3 with a deserted look as operations are restarting in a calibrated manner

COVID-19 lockdown

Last week, the civil aviation minister in India held talks with airlines to resume domestic flights and open Indian airspace. The airspace was closed since 25 March when Prime Minister Narendra Modi imposed a lockdown leading to restrictions over travel. Airlines across India had to ground aircraft and halt all their operations. The restrictions over travel and movement of people brought significant financial stress on aviation sector specifically.

As airports reopened today, authorities have revamped airport infrastructure to limit physical contact with passengers. From contactless entry to airports, allowing only web-check in and limiting baggage per passenger, airports are doing their best to stop the spread of coronavirus. The Indian government has also issued standard operating procedures for passengers to follow while travelling. Facemasks, gloves, carrying hand sanitizers are mandatory. Only asymptomatic passengers would be allowed to travel.

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