To meet the demand of travellers, Mumbai airport will start operating flights to Kolkata from Thursday as West Bengal opens its airports. IndiGo and SpiceJet will operate one flight each in both directions.
On Wednesday, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport (CSMIA) handled 4,993 passengers — 3,592 at departures and 1,401 at arrivals. The highest passenger load factor was seen on the Delhi route.
Six airlines — Air India, Air Asia India, Alliance Air, IndiGo, SpiceJet and Vistara — connected Mumbai to 14 sectors. Under the temporary domestic flight schedule being followed by all airlines, CSMIA is connected to a set of airports, one or two of which keep getting added or subtracted.
The first flight (Air India) on Wednesday departed for Ahmedabad at 6.15 a.m. while the first to arrive (IndiGo) was from Lucknow at 8.20 a.m.
The six airlines will operate the allotted 25 departures and arrivals each till May 31. As per the flight schedules announced till May 31 by the GVK-led Mumbai International Airport Ltd (MIAL), while IndiGo and SpiceJet are adding the flight to Kolkata, there will be none to Chennai or Goa.
Air Asia India will stick to flying to Delhi and Kochi from Mumbai. Air India will operate a flight to Bengaluru instead of Ahmedabad on Thursday. It will however continue its one flight to Delhi.
IndiGo which flew to Allahabad on Wednesday will be instead operating to Ahmedabad on Thursday. There will be no flight to Allahabad.
Vistara which operated three flights — Bengaluru, Delhi and Hyderabad — will drop the Karnataka capital till May 31. It will instead fly three flights to Delhi instead of the two it operated on Wednesday.
Officials said there is more demand for Tier 1 to Tier 2 sectors than for Tier 1 to Tier 1.
Late in the evening, Union Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri tweeted, “People who were stranded in different parts of the country are now able to fly to be with their loved ones. Till 5 p.m. on day 3 today, there have already been 354 departures and 288 arrivals with a total of 47,917 people at various airports. The numbers continue to grow.”
On Wednesday, KLM operated a special flight from Schipol airport in Amsterdam to Mumbai with 276 fliers, including passengers from Netherlands (168), Mexico (52), Peru (47) and Portugal (8). Indian ambassador at Netherlands Venu Rajamony saw off the passengers as they boarded the aircraft at Schiphol airport.
“There were tears of joy and heartfelt gratitude as the individuals profusely thanked the Indian Embassy for coming to their aid,” in their time of distress,” the Indian mission said in a statement.