Coronavirus | Kolkata suspends flights from 6 virus hotspots

A view of the 400-bed quarantine facility prepared at the NSCBI Airport for the flight passengers, in Kolkata.

A view of the 400-bed quarantine facility prepared at the NSCBI Airport for the flight passengers, in Kolkata.   | Photo Credit: PTI

The national capital, Mumbai and Chennai are among the six cities from where flights have been suspended by the Kolkata airport authorities from July 6 till July 19.

The other blacklisted cities are Pune, Nagpur and Ahmedabad.

The decision came even as the number of COVID-19 cases in West Bengal crossed the 20,000 mark on July 3, with the death toll touching 717.

Kolkata has recorded more than 50% of all deaths and 30% of all cases of infection.

Outbound flights

However, speaking to The Hindu, director of the Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport Kaushik Bhattacharya said there were no restrictions on outbound flights from Kolkata to these six cities.

The decision to operate outbound flights though rests with airlines.

Mr. Bhattacharya said the airport has been operating more than 65 flights on a daily basis. “Today the airport recorded 67 arrivals and departures. From these six destinations about 24 flights were arriving every day,” the airport director said. 

Mr Bhattacharya said the airport would still be operating more than 40 flights a day despite the suspensions.

West Bengal Chief Secretary Rajiva Sinha had on June 30 written to Secretary, Ministry of Civil Aviation P.S. Kharola urging him to stop flights to Kolkata from cities with a high prevalence of COVID-19 cases. 

“West Bengal is witnessing a steep rise in cases... Accordingly, I approach you with request not to schedule any flight to West Bengal from high prevalence places viz..Delhi, Mumba, Pune, Nagpur, Chennai, Indore, Ahmedabad and Surat and to stop movement of flights from these cities to Kolkata or Bagdogra for two weeks starting July 2020,” Mr. Sinha had said in the letter.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has also been raising the issue of stopping flights from COVID-19 hotspots. She had also insisted that international flights should be allowed only once in 15 days.

The Kolkata Airport in a series of tweets also said the suspension of the inbound flights “is on the request of State Govt. to restrict movement from high prevalence cities of #coronavirus cases in order to contain the spread of #COVID19".

While there is no restriction on outbound flights from Kolkata to these six cities, most airlines that fly point to point will find it unfeasible to operate empty flights into the city so as to be able to fly out with passengers. A few with deeper networks may opt to fly in from cities other than the six from which there is a temporary ban. 

“Following government orders, a total of 56 of our flights to/from Kolkata are being cancelled between 6 and 19 July 2020. We continue to follow DGCA guidelines, and are offering passengers refunds on flights cancelled within 14 days of departure," a Vistara spokesperson said.

IndiGo too said that passengers could either reschedule their flights or claim a full refund.

“The flight ban to Kolkata from Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Pune, Nagpur and Ahmedabad between July 6 and 19 is senseless because most people flying from other places fly via these cities, and what if people from these cities fly via Bengaluru or Hyderabad,” Aloke Bajpai, CEO and co-founder of travel portal ixigo, wrote on Twitter.

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Printable version | Sep 23, 2020 4:53:28 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/kolkata/no-passenger-flights-to-kolkata-from-delhi-mumbai-chennai-and-3-other-cities-between-july-6-19/article31988548.ece

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