The city airport was almost deserted on Wednesday except for men in fluorescent jackets disinfecting chairs and railings.
All flights have been suspended and officials said the airport would remain closed at least till April 14.
The authorities have started disinfecting the entire terminal building. Airport director Kaushik Bhattacharjee said the entire 200,000sq m terminal, including the domestic and international arrival and departure areas, would be cleaned and disinfected. It would take two days for the disinfection drive to be completed.
Trolleys are often not to be found where they should be at the airport, but not now. “More than 3,000 trolleys are being disinfected with special chemicals. Along with this, the floors, handrails of escalators and walkalators and even airline offices are being disinfected,” Bhattacharjee said. The counters of airlines, immigration, customs and security check-in, too, will be be cleaned and sanitised.
The building is being sealed with Central Industrial Security Force personnel guarding the gates. The airport director said once the disinfection drive was complete, basic services would be kept functional, including servers.
The health screening counters for international passengers are now empty.
Before the Covid-19 outbreak, the terminal handled 70,000 passengers every day on an average, with 500 flights (international and domestic) taking off and landing.
“On Tuesday, barely 20,000 passengers arrived,” an airport official said.
The domestic section usually sees long queues at security check-in counters and boarding gates almost throughout the day. In the morning and evening rush hours, many passengers don’t get seats in the boarding area. There are often queues in toilets as well.
On Wednesday, though, only a few members of the cleaning staff and some officials were there. “The terminal looks like a haunted house,” an official said.
The terminal may be empty but Calcutta’s air traffic control is still functioning and handling overseas flights. The ATC usually handles around 1,500 overseas flights, mostly to Southeast Asia, the Far East and Australia, an airport official said.
“Now, the number of overseas flights has gone down to a little over 500. We have reduced our staff strength by 50 per cent,” an official said.