Two months after the lone Air India flight between industrial hub Ludhiana and national capital Delhi resumed from Sahnewal domestic airport, it got a tepid response. While only eleven passengers arrived from Delhi in the 72-seater aircraft, just five boarded the return flight for Delhi.
This despite the fact that two leading trains between Ludhiana and Delhi — Amritsar Shatabdi and Swarna Shatabdi — are yet to resume operations.
The airport authorities at Sahnewal domestic airport of Ludhiana had already proposed to Air India to make the lone Ludhiana-Delhi flight six days a week as they were expecting a better response in absence of rail service. Currently the flight runs four days a week (Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday).
Speaking to The Indian Express, SK Sharan, Director, Sahnewal airport, said that the 72-seater Alliance Air aircraft landed at Sahnewal airport at 2.40 pm with eleven passengers on board.
“As per orders of Punjab government, all those who arrived were tested at the airport and told to be in home quarantine for 14 days. A team of doctors from Civil Hospital is on duty at airport,” he said.
The return flight took off at 3.20 pm and there were just five passengers on board. “Six of them had booked the flight but five arrived,” he said.
He said that the operations at the airport were stopped on March 25 and exactly after two months the lone flight resumed.
“We were expecting better response because Shatabdi trains are yet to resume. We had already proposed to airlines to make this flight six days a week instead of four days which it runs on currently. But approval for making it six days a week is yet to come,” he said.
While this Ludhiana-Delhi flight runs under Ude Desh Ka Aam Nagrik (UDAN) scheme of central government, the price of the ticket is currently around Rs 2,300 to Rs 2,400 (one-way).
As per the new schedule of the flight, it will start from Delhi at 1.30 pm and land at Sahnewal at 2.45 pm. The return flight will depart from Ludhiana at 3.25 pm and land at Delhi at 4.40 pm.
The other arrangements made at Sahnewal domestic airport, as per government orders amid coronavirus outbreak, are social distancing markings, baggage sanitisation, handsfree sanitisation machines for hands, contact less ID verification and ticket checking, extended hand held metal detectors etc.
“All passengers before boarding the flight, have to get their Aarogya Setu apps checked. ID verification and ticket checking is contact less and being done by capturing on screens. Those who are arriving are being tested and told to undergo home quarantine for 14 days,” he added.
“Before the lockdown, we were recording very good numbers and mostly at least 60 passengers were arriving and departing. The flight wasn’t running in losses,” he added.
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