Hope finally seems in sight for the thousands of Europe-bound passengers stranded in the capital. A few flights to the till-now-closed London Heathrow airport is resuming but finding a seat is going to be an uphill task.
West-bound flights have been disrupted for the last six days due to a volcanic eruption in Iceland. Even though airlines have advised passengers to call and book a seat before arriving at the airport, the Indira Gandhi International Airport is witnessing a rush of passengers trying to take the first available Europe-bound flight.
The airline and airport helplines too are buzzing 24X7 with harried and confused passengers trying to get flight schedules. The helpline run by the private airport operator Delhi International Airport Ltd. broke down on Monday evening for more than an hour.
Though some flights to US and Canada had started a few days back—using alternative routes that avoid flying over Europe — there have been no flights to European cities like London, Paris and Brussels.
Jet Airways operated its Delhi-London Heathrow flight (9W 122) on Wednesday and other airlines have announced that they will resume Delhi-London flights from Thursday.
Air India will resume the following flights — AI 111/112 (Delhi-London-Delhi) and AI 121/120 (Delhi-Frankfurt-Delhi).
The national carrier’s Paris-bound flight took from IGI airport after a delay of more than seven hours on Wednesday.
Kingfisher Airlines is also resuming return flights on New Delhi-London Heathrow (IT-001/002) route from Thursday.
Though flights will hopefully normalise from Thursday, it will take some time for the huge backlog to be cleared.
“I don't know how I am going to go back to join duty. Even if the flights resume, I am not sure if I will get a seat or not," said P Bharadwaj, who works in a software firm in the UK.
Barbara Cekam, 50, a Munich (Germany) has been sleeping in the IGI airport's lounge for the past four nights.
“I can't stay in a hotel because I don't have any money,” she said.