Lockdown: Travel agents write to Bengal government for flight resumption
Travel agents’ associations on Tuesday have written to the state government requesting it to resume flights between Calcutta and six cities and also international repatriation flights.
Flights to Calcutta from Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, Nagpur Chennai and Ahmedabad — the cities that have high Covid prevalence — have remained suspended since July 6 following a request from the state government. The ban was to end on August 15 but has been extended till August 31.
“We seek your support to reconsider this suspension so that the residents of West Bengal who are stranded in these cities and also the business travellers who could bring in business engagements/revenue to Bengal, can avail (of) these direct services,” reads a letter from the Travel Agents Federation of India (TAFI) and the Travel Agents’ Association of India (TAAI) to Bengal home secretary Alapan Bandyopdhyay.
“We seek your approval to restart the Bubble flights/ Repatriation flights /operations from /by the International Carriers (subject to the approval from our State Government as per our State Government’s SOP) (Not just the charter flights).... We need your support towards restarting, restructuring and restoring the travel and tourism industry.”
Anil Punjabi, chairman, east, TAFI, said they had recommended safety measures such as making all arriving passengers undergo the rapid antigen test for Covid-19 at the Calcutta airport.
“If a passenger refuses to undergo the test, he or she will have to undergo 14 days’ home quarantine. The health department counter at the airport will issue quarantine documents, copies of which will be given to the local municipal corporation/panchayat office and the local police station for intimation and close monitoring,” he said.
“We have decided to write the letter together to make our voices heard. Resuming flights is vital for our business,” said Manav Soni, the chairman of TAAI’s eastern region.
Representatives of airlines said they, too, would write a similar letter to the state government shortly, pleading for resumption of flights between Calcutta and the six cities as well as repatriation flights.
The state had stopped repatriation flights after many passengers, most of them medical students, refused institutional quarantine after arriving in the city.
The government has recently allowed chartered evacuation flights with passengers testing negative for Covid-19 within 96 hours before the departure. “Special operating protocol can be put in place to ensure that,” said a senior official at the airport.