Airport abuzz ahead of suspension of flights

Hundreds of passengers thronged the Chennai airport to leave the city and fares went up manifold as the city prepared for a lockdown. Domestic flight operations were suspended from midnight. As soon as the announcement came, by around 5.30 p.m. on Monday, many rushed to the airport and by midnight, nearly 10,500 people flew out of the city to different destinations and about 8,500 people arrived here. This continued the whole of Tuesday as well, airport sources said.

Usually, passenger traffic will be about 35,000-40,000; but after the outbreak of COVID-19, in the last few weeks, the traffic had dipped significantly and only 8,000-10,000 travelled. But on Monday, there was a sharp rise and the number touched nearly 19,000, sources said.

According to officials of Airports Authority of India (AAI), on Tuesday too, the domestic terminal witnessed a spurt in traffic. “We will know the exact number of people who travelled on Tuesday only after monitoring for a 24 hour period,” an official said. There were also many who came to the airport and left, deeply disappointed, as the flights were cancelled in the last minute. “If the flight capacity is low, then the airline cancelled the service and it has become a huge problem for passengers,” he added.

Flight fares that had nosedived after the COVID-19 outbreak went up manifold suddenly. Till recently, the flight fare from Chennai to Bengaluru was around ₹ 900-1,000, suddenly it spiked to ₹ 3,200-3,500. Similarly, the fare to New Delhi that was about ₹ 3,000 has now gone up to as much as ₹8,000-₹ 9,000. The fare to Hyderabad that was ₹1,200 till recently grew as high as ₹7,000. “Now, there is no other means to travel to places like Delhi as trains have been cancelled. So, we saw that people are prepared to pay any amount and get back to their hometown now,” a source said.

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Printable version | Apr 5, 2020 4:05:03 AM |

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