The first day was marred by cancellations, and customer complaints
A little over 500 flights. And almost an equal number of cancellations.
That summed up the chaotic resumption of domestic flights on May 25, marked by passengers reporting to airports only to be told that their flights had been cancelled. Delhi airport alone raked up about 100 cancellations.
Passengers took to social media platforms to share photographs, highlighting the detailed protocol in airports, and 'surreal' scenes in-flight with fliers sporting masks and shields, and crew wearing protective suits.
In all, 39,321 passengers were flown, with the highest passenger load of up to 60 percent. "The overall passenger load stood at 55 percent," said Nishant Pitti, CEO, EaseMyTrip.com.
"From no domestic passenger flights on May 24 to 532 flights and 39,231 passengers on May 25, action has returned to Indian skies," Civil Aviation Minster Hardeep Singh Puri tweeted.
At the time of the writing, the Delhi airport had operated about 250 flights. GVK MIAL, which manages the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport (CSMIA) in Mumbai, said it operated 47 flights on May 25.
The airport in total catered to 4,852 passengers, with the highest passenger load capacity seen on the Delhi route departing out of CSMIA.
The Maharashtra government, after initially refusing to allow operations, had finally agreed to a schedule of 25 departures and an equal number of arrivals at the Mumbai airport.
"It was a poorly thought through restart. Airlines and airports were left to manage while the government washed its hands off, and passengers suffered. Only saving grace was limited operations, because of which the scale of suffering was reduced," is how a senior executive from the industry summed up the first day.Next few daysIndustry executives expect flight and passenger numbers to increase on May 26, with Visakhapatnam and Vijaywada airports opening up, and with fewer cancellations expected.
It may further go up on May 28, after Kolkata and Bagdogra airports also open up.
At the same time, many fear that the passenger load percentages may go down after the initial demand is taken care of.
"Loads were higher now because of so many last minutes cancellations. So, flights were pooled. Almost all who are travelling are those going home. After that it will subside unless quarantines are removed," said the senior executive quoted above.
Apart from the restrictions in Mumbai, and other airports, all states released standard operating procedures on quarantine, resulting in chaos and confusion.