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Over 42k Passengers Ferried On 2nd Day Of Flights Resumption, 1 Traveller Tests COVID-19 Positive, AirAsia Flight Makes Emergency Landing


New Delhi, May 26 (PTI) Airlines ferried nearly 42,000 passengers on 325 flights till 5 pm on Tuesday as a traveller tested positive for coronavirus in perhaps the first case during the resumption of domestic air services and an AirAsia flight carrying 74 people made an emergency landing in Hyderabad.

The air carriers also resorted to cancellation of several flights on the second day of resumption of services due to truncated schedules following requests from several states owing to the coronavirus crisis posing difficulties to hundreds of passengers at several airports.

The number of cancellations was not immediately available though Tuesday’s passenger load indicated more travellers taking to flights compared to Monday.

Airlines also began operating from Andhra Pradesh on Tuesday while flights will resume in West Bengal from Thursday that is expected to increase the passenger traffic.

Officials said several of the flights operated on Monday were half empty.

IndiGo airline said one of the passengers who travelled on its Chennai-Coimbatore flight on Monday evening has tested positive for COVID-19.

The low-cost carrier said the passenger was sitting with all precautionary measures like gloves, mask and face shield and he is currently quarantined at a Coimbatore medical facility.

The 24-year-old man has been since shifted to the ESI Hospital for further treatment, officials said.

Though the other passengers in the flight tested negative, they are likely to be home quarantined for 14 days, they said. The exact number of passengers was not known but sources said it could be around 100.

Swab test results on Tuesday revealed that the 24-year-old man tested positive for the deadly virus. He was working in the room service wing of a star hotel in Chennai.

"The operating crew has been grounded and home quarantined for 14 days and we are in the process of notifying other passengers as per the government guidelines, to ensure safety of our passengers and staff," the Indigo airline said.

Domestic flights resumed on Monday after a two-month gap owing to the lockdown with 428 flights carrying 30,550 passengers to their destinations, according to civil aviation ministry data. Around 630 flights were cancelled on the first day of resumption of services, aviation industry sources said.

All carriers except GoAir operated their flights on Monday and Tuesday.

"Smooth operations of domestic civil aviation operation. Our airports have handled 325 departures & 283 arrivals with 41,673 passengers till 5 pm on 26 May 2020, the second day after recommencement of domestic flights," Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said on Tuesday. "Final report for the day will be prepared after details come in at midnight.”

The AirAsia India flight from Hyderabad with 70 passengers on board developed a technical snag during the flight, forcing the pilot to shut an engine before making the landing under emergency conditions at Rajiv Gandhi International Airport in Shamshabad on the outskirts of Hyderabad, airline sources said.

The flight landed at 1.30 PM as per schedule and the passengers for the onward journey to Bengaluru were accommodated in another flight, they said

VT-IXC, operating as i51543 from Jaipur to Hyderabad, encountered a technical issue and carried out a precautionary engine shut down, the airline said.

“Handling the situation calmly in a professional manner the crew landed at Shamshabad, as scheduled," its spokesperson said in a statement.

The airline is carrying out a detailed inspection of the aircraft and has informed the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) about the incident, it said, adding that it is assisting in the investigation to establish the cause.

Asserting that its pilots and crew are experienced and well trained to manage these situations, AirAsia India further said it would like to reiterate that Safety First is a core value and the safety of its guests and crew is the single most important criteria in every aspect of operations.

Like on Monday, a section of passengers who reached their airports on Tuesday were informed that their flights have been cancelled. Many people also vented their ire on social media.

Aarti Chaddha, a member of Aam Aadmi Party's(AAP) social media team, had booked a seat on Tuesday's Mumbai-Chandigarh flight of IndiGo for her mother who had been stranded in Mumbai for the last two months.

This flight was cancelled and when Chaddha asked IndiGo about it on Twitter, the airline responded that the flight has been "impacted" due to the restrictions imposed by the Maharashtra government.

She said on Twitter on Tuesday, "Can we get the list of 25 flights listed to take off from Mumbai? Airlines are booking tickets, not sending cancellation messages, cancelling last minute, deducting the money."

The Indira Gandhi International Airport(IGIA) in Delhi, which is India's largest, was scheduled to handle around 277 flights on Tuesday, officials said, adding that around 25 flights were cancelled during the day.

On May 23, the government officials had said they expected Delhi airport to handle around 380 flights per day from May 25.

Mumbai airport, India's second busiest airport, handled just 44 flights on Tuesday transporting over 44,000 passengers. On Monday, it had handled 47 flights.

On Sunday night, the central government had clarified that Mumbai will handle a maximum of 50 flights per day from Monday.

The officials said the first flight on Tuesday to Vijayawada in Andhra Pradesh landed from Bengaluru at 6.55 am, carrying 79 passengers. The Spicejet flight returned to Bengaluru with 68 passengers, they added.

At Vizag airport, the first flight landed from Bengaluru at 7 am.

"At Vijayawada, four flights are of IndiGo, two each are of SpiceJet and Air India," they added.

Visakhapatnam airport is scheduled to handle eight flights on Wednesday, they said.PTI DSP IAS NVM RAM SA GDK GSN GSN




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