With India resuming domestic flights, stringent measures taken by state governments like mandatory quarantine and need for Covid-negative certification are acting as deterrents for demand to take off.
Nearly 630 flight cancellations were recorded on May 25, the first day of flight resumption after two months, according to local media. The wave of cancellations were due to air carriers’ operational issues and state-implemented restrictions. Indian states and union territories including Karnataka, Punjab, Chhattisgarh, Assam, Jammu and Kashmir have mandated either institutional or home quarantine for arriving passengers.
“The cancellation of so many flights on the first day, and some on the second day, is problematic. This shatters the confidence of flyers who are travelling against all odds,” said Arun Anand, managing director, Midtown Travels.
A South India-based tour operator who declined to be named said the Indian aviation minister should have taken the state governments in confidence before restarting the flights. “Many passengers were left lurching after booking the air tickets, with many state governments announcing mandatory quarantine and airlines cancelling flights. Such a negative approach won’t help to instill confidence among domestic travellers,” he added.
Goa, one of the Indian states with few Covid-19 cases, has stated that travellers need to present a Covid-negative certificate or undergo a swab test upon arrival.
“We can hope for some restrictions to lift once the Covid-19 graph starts declining,” said Sarbendra Sarkar, founder and managing director, Cygnett Hotels and Resorts.
However, some states like Maharashtra have declared passengers travelling in the state for less than one week will be exempted from isolation upon sharing details of their return journey.
“State governments have to manage their own coronavirus cases, and to maintain safety, it is within their rights to impose quarantine. However, some states deciding to exempt travellers coming for less than a week from quarantine is a positive signal,” said Anand.