Coronavirus lockdown: Flyers are in for a very tough time ahead

Pranav Jalan
Wednesday, 27 May 2020

A total of around 630 flights were cancelled on the very first day of air travel resumption. According to the government, it was airlines duty to inform the passengers about the quarantine or arrival rules of the State they were travelling to.

India has resumed domestic flights after a gap of two months. The continued threat of coronavirus and the soaring numbers has induced travel restrictions. Hundreds of people reached the IGI airport on May 25 to catch the early morning flights but were left in a state of shock and confusion. On Monday, airlines carried about 40,000 passengers on 532 flights across the country. This is a 10th of what airlines carried every day before the lockdown was imposed.

People and the airlines faced a lot of chaos and confusion which aroused due to the last-minute cancellation mandated by the government, just before the flights actually started. Lack of transport facilities, technical glitches were also among the reasons for confusion. But above all the reasons the most confusing were the different rules imposed by the various State governments.

On Sunday, the aviation secretary met airline chiefs in the evening and told them that they would have to curtail their schedule even further, almost half of what they were approved on Thursday. According to the government, it was airlines duty to inform the passengers about the quarantine or arrival rules of the State they were travelling to. But obviously, there was a lot of confusion and passengers were not sure about the cancellation messages that they received from the airlines. In fact, reports say that many flights got cancelled without any prior notice. A total of around 630 flights were cancelled on the very first day of air travel resumption.

Many states such as Maharashtra, West Bengal and Tamil Nadu opposed the opening of airports. They said they can’t receive flights from other States this early as it will increase the risk of spreading the virus. Kolkata airport has announced that they will not operate any flights till Thursday and afterwards will only run 20 flights per day. Mumbai airport will also operate only 25 flights for arrival and 25 flights for departure. The Jammu and Kashmir government has said that people have to compulsory undergo 14-day quarantine, same was the statement made by the Kerala government, but people travelling for short business trips will be exempted from the 14-day quarantine by Kerala.

Following are the set of rules that need to be followed before reaching the airport:

 - Mandatory web check-in

- Download the Aarogya Setu app, but for the people travelling to Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, they have to register themselves on other apps like Seva Sindhu and TN e-pass app respectively.

Well, the question here is, not every person is tech-savvy that he/she can complete the procedure as mentioned above, so many people turned up at the airports without any pass /app/web check-in. So that led to a lot of delays and chaos.

Lately, there have been a lot of discussions around the middle seat of the aircraft being filled. Although the Supreme Court has only allowed Air India to fly with the middle seat filled till June 6, that too only on its international rescue flights. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said that testing and quarantine are the best ways to stop the transmission of the disease instead of keeping the middle row empty as it will not help in maintaining the social distancing norms and also have an adverse effect on the airlines.

A bench led by Chief Justice of India SA Bobde stated “How can you say it will not have any effect? Is the virus supposed to know that it is in the aircraft and not supposed to infect? The transmission will be there if you are sitting next to each other.”

Following is the table which tells whether you have to go under quarantine and where all you need to register yourself before boarding your flight:

State

Registration/App Required

Quarantine

Maharashtra

Aarogya Setu

Home Quarantine for 14 Days

Uttar Pradesh

http://reg.upcovid.in and Aarogya Setu

Home Quarantine for 14 Days

Delhi

Aarogya Setu

14 Days Quarantine only for symptomatic patients

Tamil Nadu

TNePass Portal and
Aarogya Setu

Home Quarantine for 14 Days

Kerala

Aarogya Setu

Home Quarantine for 14 Days

Karnataka

Seva Sindhu and

Aarogya Setu

Home Quarantine for 14 Days

Rajasthan

Aarogya Setu

Home Quarantine for 14 Days

Gujarat

Aarogya Setu

14 Days Quarantine only for symptomatic patients

 

This confusion will go on for at least a week as there are thousands of people who are still stuck in other cities. After a week there might be a drop in demand as most of the people will reach to their respective cities and there will be people only travelling for essential work. But for the future, centre and the State governments will have to come to a common ground and make one set of guidelines for all the passengers.

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