Domestic flights resumed in the country on May 25 after a gap of two months, but amidst chaos and confusion.
While industry executives said that nearly 100 flights had been cancelled, there were instances of passengers reporting to airports but being informed that their flights had been rescheduled.
These included a group of students who had traveled to Mumbai from other parts of Maharashtra. It was only after they reached the airport that they were informed that their flight, scheduled early on May 25, had been cancelled.
Air India fliers took to social media with many complaining that they were unable to web check-in, which was mandated by the government. Many were also left confused after getting messages from the airline that their flights had been cancelled. But online, the same flight was shown to be 'on time.'
"It is because of the old system that Air India has. Refunds have also become a problem," said senior executive at an online travel agency.
The resumption of flights was preceded by a day of near-mayhem as airlines parlayed with governments, both at the centre and the states, to sort several issues.
Though the airlines could re-start operations with one-third of their summer schedule, the actual number was much lower. While Mumbai airport restricted operations to 25 arrivals and an equal number of departures, the commencement of service was delayed in Kolkata, Bagdogra, Vizag and Vijayawada.
Adding to the disarray was a stream of SoPs from states. Many of them have also mandated quarantine for incoming passengers.
The silver lining
Despite the chaos, airlines will also take heart from the demand.
"We are seeing good traffic to destinations in the eastern parts of the country. Passengers have also been alert to do web check-in and have brought tags for their luggage," said a senior executive from a private airline.
"It may take about two days for things to stabilise and then we would look to ramp up capacity," added an executive from another airline.The present restrictions on schedule and fares last till August 24.