Five Vande Bharat flights to Kolkata cancelled – Times of India

Kolkata News

File photo of flyers returning from Dubai

KOLKATA: Repatriation flights from Chicago, New Jersey, London and Dubai to Kolkata and other cities and towns in the region have been cancelled. Altogether, five special flights have been scrapped. Two of these were in the third phase of the Vande Bharat mission and the rest in the fourth phase.
Sources said the Director General of Civil Aviation asked the airlines to pull out flights to Kolkata following a request from the West Bengal government. Chief minister Mamata Banerjee had on Thursday demanded international flights to the city be stopped for a fortnight to arrest the sharp rise in Covid-19 cases in Kolkata and rest of the state in recent weeks.
The cancellations included two flights that IndiGo was scheduled to operate from Dubai on July 2 and 3 and three Air India flights that the carrier was to operate from Chicago and Newark on July 4 and London on July 12.
Eight more flights that are scheduled to be operated by Kuwait Airways in the fourth phase remain unaffected as of now as they are between July 22 and 29.
On Tuesday, five special flights operated to Kolkata, two from Doha and one each from London, Kuwait and Dhaka. Air India will operate a flight from Cairo on Wednesday morning, after which the embargo on special flights from abroad at Kolkata airport will kick in.
Kolkata had not figured in the first phase of the 84 Vande Bharat flights. Flights were allocated in the second phase after Banerjee said the state was being discriminated upon despite being ready with adequate quarantine facilities to receive passengers. The city was thereafter included in the second and third phase of Vande Bharat mission. Around 5,500 passengers flew into the city in the 50-odd flights from abroad.
The cancellation of international flights has led to anxiety among those who are scheduled to return after being stranded abroad for over three months. Adding to the confusion is the state chief secretary’s letter to the civil aviation secretary demanding an embargo on flights to Kolkata from eight cities with high Covid cases and each airline be allowed to operate from other cities to the city only once a week.
Around 40% of the flights and nearly 50% of passengers are to the eight cities from where the state wants flights to be stopped for a fortnight.
Travel agents have also raised concerns. “If 85% flights curtailed, fares that are already high will shoot up,” said a travel agent.