Lockdown 4.0: Pune Airport resumes domestic flight operations with some changes

Lockdown 4.0: Pune Airport resumes domestic flight operations with some changes

Pune: Pune airport resumed flight operations on Monday after two months but with a few changes. The first IndiGo flight landed from Delhi with 23 passengers and first SpiceJet flight departed from the airport.

The Pune airport was ready to operate 34 flights (17 arrivals and 17 departure) on the first day after 67 days but operated only 22 flights (11 arrivals and 11 departure). The reason behind the cancellation of 12 flights was that either the flights had a very few passengers or due to 14-day home quarantine norm passengers cancelled their tickets at the last moment.

Pune airport Director Kuldeep Singh said, “The Pune airport has provided all facilities to passengers both at the arrival and departure. They are cooperating with officials of AAI and CISF, also with airline staff to maintain the social distancing guideline. Till 5 pm, five flights arrived with 376 passengers and six departed with 753 passengers.”

Around 12 flights were cancelled, which included Chennai-Pune-Chennai, Kolkata-Pune-Kolkata and Bangalore-Pune-Bangalore, owing to less number of passengers. Either ticket was not booked or people did not reach the airport. Most flights were also delayed because of this reason. ''The number of people coming to Pune airport is very low, hence flights are being combined”, he further informed.

“The fliers queued up and stood at the departure gate of the airport. The queue was different from ordinary days. Mask-covered faces following social distancing norm were moving slowly to a certain distance. Keeping in mind the danger of infection, new arrangements have been made at the airport,” said an officer at the airport.

At the airport, hand sanitisers have been placed inside the terminal building. Markings have been made on the ground as well as seats to maintain social distancing. The Airport Authority of India (AAI) and Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) officials are constantly warning fliers what to do to avoid infection.

All passengers’ belongings are sanitised before entering the airport. The staff has been deputed to sanitise luggage, besides conducting thermal scanning at the departure gate. E-tickets, boarding passes and identity cards of all people are being checked at the gate before entering. Officials are checking passengers who have already downloaded Arogya Setu apps. Officials are asking those haven’t got the app yet to download it.

Passengers arriving at the airport have to self-quarantine for 14 days. Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) Deputy Municipal Commissioner Rajendra Muthe said, "As per government guidelines, we have institutional quarantine for fliers for 14 days.”

AAI, CISF and staff of airlines have been provided face shields, mask, gloves and PPE kits. The security personnel are sanitising their equipment after checking each passenger. "It takes a little time, but passengers are cooperating with us," said a senior CISF officer deputed at Pune airport.

CityGlide Auto Cheif Executive Officer (CEO) Rahul Shittole, who is providing auto-rickshaw to fliers to reach Pune airport said, “The bookings started from yesterday. On May 25, a total of 155 confirmations were received, 59 were cancelled due to flight cancellation. On May 26, 140 bookings were confirmed and 50 were awaiting confirmation till 5 pm.”

Also, while the Union Minister for Civil Aviation had informed that the fare for the Delhi-Mumbai route should be between Rs 3,500 to 10,000, the fare is fluctuating as per the demand. The fare for Pune to Delhi is about Rs 6000 to 8000, Pune to Bangalore Rs 3800 to 6000, Pune to Kochi Rs 8000 to 9000, Pune to Jaipur Rs 5000 to 7000, Pune to Ahmedabad Rs 4000 to 5000, Pune to Hyderabad Rs 6000 to 8000 and Pune to Chennai Rs 4500 to 7500.

According to airline officials those who have booked their tickets in advanced paid less. But some who booked at the last minute are paying more due to the dynamic fare.

Chairman and Managing Director, SpiceJet Ajay Singh said, “We are delighted to have resumed our flight operations following every safety guideline and protocol laid down by the government. I thank all stakeholders for their cooperation. This indeed is a new beginning in the lives of everyone associated with airlines, including passengers who have been eagerly waiting to return home.”

A spokesperson of IndiGo airlines said, “IndiGo plans on flying more than 200 daily flights until May 31, 2020. Our customers can be assured that any flight that is on sale during this period is compliant to the latest Covid-19 guidelines issued May 25 night by the different states. IndiGo’s flight operations will support more than 20,000 passengers to be home by May 26 night.”

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