Kolkata: Domestic flight operations look unlikely to commence at Kolkata airport from Monday with CM Mamata Banerjee saying the state, that was in the midst of salvage and relief operations in cyclone-affected areas, required time till at least May 28. Sources said flights may resume operations in Kolkata on May 30 while operations at Bagdogra airport may start two days earlier on May 28. Among the services that the state needs to provide at the airport include city commute options for flyers.
“I have heard that domestic flights will start from May 25. Had the operations started on May 30, we would have got some more time. But we need time till at least May 28,” the CM said at the state secretariat on Saturday.
With five other states saying arriving passengers will be put in quarantine despite indication from civil aviation minister Hardeep Singh Puri’s assurance that quarantine would not be required in domestic travel, there is already a cloud over Covid-era flight resumption. Himachal Pradesh has further said that only passengers with valid proof that they were residents of the state would be allowed.
Travel agents feel the confusion could have been avoided had the Centre held consultations with state governments before declaring a date to resume flights. “There are a lot of contradictory reports coming from Maharashtra as well. Most of my clients are either flying to Mumbai or flying back to the city from there. If no flights operate till May 28, will the money be refunded by airlines or will they reschedule the flights?” wondered Travel Agents Federation of India (TAFI) eastern region chairman Anil Punjabi.
Kolkata airport officials said the facility was ready for flights. On Saturday, too, four charter flights used Kolkata airport to transport ONGC employees. “Amphan is behind us. We are ready to handle flights,” airport director Kaushik Bhattacharjee said.