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Cancellation and quarantine rules hold up fliers

Temporary closure of the Mumbai airport because of cyclonic storm Nisarga adds to woes
Calcutta airport

Sanjay Mandal   |   Calcutta   |   Published 04.06.20, 10:29 PM

Many fliers are getting stuck in Calcutta because airlines are cancelling flights following changes in quarantine rules in some states and poor phone network is leading to passengers missing alerts about changed flight timings.

The temporary closure of the Mumbai airport because of cyclonic storm Nisarga was another reason for the fliers getting stranded.

Gaurang Dalal, along with three others, was scheduled to fly from Bagdogra to Mumbai through Delhi on an AirAsia flight on June 2. But they were stuck in Calcutta till June 4 afternoon because of cancellations of several flights, he said on Thursday.

Dalal, who owns several hotels in Sikkim, was stuck there during the lockdown and was returning home.

“We were told at the Bagdogra airport that the Mumbai flight was cancelled but we were redirected through Calcutta. The flight to Mumbai from Calcutta was to leave at 8.15pm,” said Dalal.

However, at 5.35pm that day, he received a call from the airline and was told that the flight had taken off almost three hours before the scheduled departure.

The airline had arranged for hotel accommodation for the four persons on June 2 and had booked them on a SpiceJet flight the next day (Wednesday, June 3). However, after reaching the airport, Dalal came to know that the flight had been cancelled because of the cyclone.

AirAsia rebooked them again on an IndiGo flight for Thursday afternoon, which they finally took.

“We had to cancel flights to Mumbai because the airport was closed. The passengers were informed but there are serious network problems, for which many passengers are not receiving messages,” said an official of the airline.

Other airlines also said they had to cancel flights because of the cyclone and change in quarantine rules in some states.

Manipur has temporarily restricted flight movements from all parts of India because of Covid-19. Airlines said the state was allowing only three flights every day, forcing them to abruptly cancel flights.

“We had to cancel our flights to Imphal because of the state government’s decision,” said an Air India official.

An official of a private airline said because of changes in the quarantine rules, many passengers were cancelling bookings.

“It’s not viable to operate a flight with only a handful of passengers,” said the official. After booking, passengers are being sent links related to the quarantine policy of the state they are to fly to. After booking a ticket, a passenger comes to know that he or she would be quarantined for seven to 14 days and would not be able to finish the work and so, is cancelling the ticket.

“On an average, domestic flights in and out of Calcutta were having 50 to 60 per cent load, compared with almost 90 per cent before the pandemic,” the official said.

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