Coronavirus outbreak: State asks Mumbai airport to plan for domestic traffic amid lockdown

Updated: May 24, 2020, 12:27 IST | Dharmendra Jore | Mumbai

Saurabh Vijay, state Nodal officer (Air movement), has told MIAL to initiate minimum possible domestic flights from Maharashtra from May 25 i.e. only those of emergency in nature, till such time that MIAL plans and fine tunes airport operations

Earlier this week, the Indian government suspended tourist visas to India until further notice. Pic/Anurag Ahire
Earlier this week, the Indian government suspended tourist visas to India until further notice. Pic/Anurag Ahire

The Maharashtra government has asked Mumbai International Airport Limited (MIAL) to submit a plan for passenger and crew safety and other preparedness for handling the 27,500 passengers expected to commute daily from Mumbai in a grave COVID-19 situation, before starting full-fledged domestic traffic from Monday, i.e. May 25.

Saurabh Vijay, state Nodal officer (Air movement), has told union civil aviation department and MIAL to initiate minimum possible domestic flights from Maharashtra from May 25 i.e. only those purely emergent in nature as for instance international transfer passengers, medical emergencies, students, and cases on compassionate grounds, till such time MIAL plans and fine tunes airport operations.

The letter to MIAL said that considering domestic air operations are starting amidst lockdown restrictions, Mumbai, Pune and many cities in Maharashtra are in red zone where maximum restrictions, including on movement of persons and transport both public and private—are in existence.

"It is not clear from your e-mail whether MIAL has worked out requirement of staff including ground staff—technical and non-technical—their availability, health conditions/check-up for their fitness level to resume work at airport, daily commute etc. It is also not clear from which part of the city they will commute and whether it falls in containment zone which have total movement restrictions," added the letter.

It said there can be no to-fro movement from such (red/containment) zones. It is not clear whether airlines will check if domestic arrivals in the state are not from containment zones, lest they get stuck up on arrival, the letter further said.

"You say 27,500 passengers are expected to commute daily from May 25, but besides this load there will be large number of airport and airline staff. Their commuting will be a big challenge. It is, therefore, requested to plan your daily operations in detail and furnish information to the State Government. While making requests, please bear in mind that local authorities and resources are very much strained due to existing COVID-19 situation. The state government will provide you all possible assistance for smooth start of these operations in a phased manner," said the communication.

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