Cancellations hit travellers hard as flights resume at Mumbai airport after 2 months
Airport sources confirmed that the airport will be operating 44 flights on Tuesday and Wednesday.Updated: May 26, 2020 00:09 IST
After being suspended for almost two months, commercial flight operations in Mumbai commenced on Monday morning in a calibrated manner.
At Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport (CSMIA), 47 flights were operated (arrival and departure) throughout the day, where seven airlines catered to 14 sectors. The first flight departed for Patna at 6:45 am and a Lucknow flight was the first arrival at 8:20 am, both operated by IndiGo.
Of the total 47 flights, eleven flights were operated to and from Delhi, four Kochi, Hyderabad, Varanasi, Bangalore and Patna, two were to be operated to and from Calicut, Diu, Lucknow, Nagpur, Chandigarh, Gorakhpur, Allahabad and one flight was due to take off for Jaipur.
However, there was chaos and confusion due to last minute changes in flight schedules as a result of differences between the central and state governments. The restrictions on the number of flights placed by some states led to cancellation of scheduled services.
Sudhanshu Pandey, who was on an official trip to Mumbai has been stranded for two months and was booked on an 8 am flight to Delhi on Monday. “I had no idea that my flight was cancelled and it was only at 6.30 am that I learnt about my flight status while I was entering the check-in area. I had booked three cabs in advance so that I don’t face issues while travelling to the airport. This is the second time that my air ticket money is blocked.”
At least, 4,852 passengers (3,752 departing passengers and 1,100 arriving passengers) were flown to and from Mumbai airport on Monday. The highest passenger load capacity was seen on the Delhi route departing out of CSMIA.
Airport sources confirmed that the airport will be operating 44 flights on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Using its A320 aircraft, low-cost carrier- IndiGo operated 19 flights (eight arrivals and 11 departures) from CSMIA on Monday. SpiceJet is expected to operate ten flights (five departures and five arrivals). The airline will be utilizing its Boeing 738 aircraft for these flights.
With the help of its A320 aircraft, Air Asia India operated two departures and two arrivals. Full service carrier Vistara too operated four flights (two arrivals and two departures) from Mumbai airport on Monday.
National carrier Air India operated four flights using two aircraft- A320 for arrival and departure to Kochi and B787 for arrival and departure operations to the national capital- Delhi. Using its ATRs, Air India’s subsidiary- Alliance Air operated two flights (arrival and departure to Diu) while Air India Express, which too will operate two flights and will use its B738 aircraft.
Jammu resident, Prashant Sharma, who was stuck in Mumbai after an event in March said, “I want to leave Mumbai as I am facing issues with my accommodation. Though I am currently residing in a friend’s home, the housing society members had made it clear to me that I won’t be given entry into the society premises if I return from the airport in case the flight is cancelled. Hence I decided to stay home. I have not received payment for the event for which I had come to Mumbai and I have lost Rs. 12,000 only in booking my tickets.”
A passenger Devendra Nath Tripathi tweeted, “We are at the Mumbai Airport for AI-809 and have no confirmation for the flight. Air India online status shows flight on time. Ground reality is grim... No cabs to return…no water despite boarding pass. Terrible management by #Air India.”
Ashwini Pandey, a banker and a resident of Chennai had purchased tickets of four airlines to reach Mumbai but all his four flights were cancelled. “I have to join my work urgently on June 10. Only if I reach Mumbai now, I can join my new office after finishing my quarantine period. Two flights got cancelled today and two flights that were scheduled on Tuesday too have been cancelled.”
Rishi Goel, a Shimla resident who works in Mumbai said that he wanted to return as his wife delivered during the lockdown. Goel could board his Chandigarh-bound flight but termed his experience before reaching the airport troublesome. He said, “My airline first messaged me that my flight was cancelled and then sent an updated message that my flight was on time. Their website, however, continued to show my flight to be cancelled. It was only at 3 am that the airline website was updated with my flight status and I could take off at 9am.”
It was however a happy day for Mohammad Ansari who could reach Allahabad to celebrate Eid. “I had enquired about my flight status a day before departure. As the flight was on time, I reached the airport and took off on time.”
“Resumption of flights from May 25 has caused a lot of chaos for the passengers. The problem for passengers began with individual states rolling out their guidelines relating to the operationality of airports and post travel quarantine rules that left travellers high and dry. With only a fraction of flights allowed to operate from some of the busiest airports, this resulted in a spike in cancellations with majority of travellers left uncertain about their travel. To add to this the ability of Air India to manage the current situation has added to the angst of passengers,” said Nishant Pitti, co- founder, easemytrip.com.
Senior airport officials revealed that the airport also handled a few non scheduled flights, Vande Bharat and cargo flights taking the total number of flights operated to around 84. Mumbai airport, which used to handle around 950 flights daily, has been shut from March 25, except for evacuation and cargo operations.
According to the health ministry guidelines, all arriving passengers were screened for body temperature.
“All the arriving passengers will be stamped on their left hand for identification and will have to undergo compulsory home isolation for the period of seven days as per the protocol by the municipal corporation. Passengers, who are coming in for a short duration and have planned for a return or onward journey, will have to share the details of the same and will be exempted from the isolation. Furthermore, the airport has created temporary isolation centres in case any passenger shows symptoms of the deadly virus during the screening process,” a MIAL spokesperson said.