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Aircrafts are parked at the Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi on Sunday. Domestic air travel resumes on Monday after a two-month shutdown over the coronavirus pandemic.

Domestic flights resume today amid confusion over rules

Corona cases in the country cross 6,000 for the third consecutive day on Sunday, surging to a record single-day spike of 6,767 infections

New Delhi: Indian skies will open up for domestic passenger flights from Monday after a gap of two months amid confusion over what quarantine rules may apply to the travellers but there will be minimum air services and delay in resumption in some states.

Government officials said on Sunday night that the airports in Kolkata and Bagdogra in cyclone-hit West Bengal will not operate any domestic flights between May 25 and 27 but will handle 20 flights each per day from May 28.

The airports in Mumbai in Maharashtra and Hyderabad in Telangana will daily handle 50 and 30 flights respectively from Monday, they said. The Maharashtra government had requested the Centre to keep the air services at a minimum possible level. All the flights account for equal number of arrivals and departures, the officials added.

Vijayawada and Vizag airports in Andhra Pradesh will not operate any domestic flights on Monday but services will begin from Tuesday, they said.

The revised schedule for resumption of airport operations followed reluctance by some states to deal with thousands of incoming passengers in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Bookings had opened for around 1,050 domestic flights planned for Monday but the revised schedule has led to cancellation of several flights leaving hundreds of passengers disappointed. The airlines were allowed to operate one-third of their capacity.

As India enters the last week of the thrice extended lockdown for 68 days, the resumption of domestic flights comes at a time when new coronavirus cases in the country crossed 6,000 for the third consecutive day on Sunday, surging to a record single day spike of 6,767 infections. The fourth phase of national lockdown to fight the COVID-19 pandemic is due to end on May 31.

The imposition of quarantine rules by several states which are at odds with each other also triggered concern among the flying and cabin crew of the airlines.

The Union Health Ministry, meanwhile, issued its own set of guidelines for domestic air, rail and road travel and also said states can also develop their own protocol with regards to quarantine and isolation as per their assessment. Passengers were also advised to download the contact tracing application Aarogya Setu on their mobile devices.

The ministry while listing out its quarantine protocol among other steps suggested thermal screening at entry and exit points and said asymptomatic passengers will be permitted to go after reaching the destination with the advice they shall self-monitor their health for 14 days.

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