India coronavirus: Chaos at airports as domestic flights resume

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Long queues and chaos greeted passengers at Indian airports as flights resumed after a two-month lockdown.

Local media said almost 100 flights were cancelled, although many more took off as scheduled.

Maharashtra state which has the highest number of Covid-19 cases in India ,said it would only allow only 50 flights a day, leading to several cancellations.

Angry passengers say they were not informed ahead of time.

“Our flight was cancelled and there is no-one to answer us at the help desk. We don’t know what to do now,” a passenger in the southern city of Chennai told the ANI news agency.

He says he and his family have been in the city since 15 March, and finally booked tickets to fly back to their home in Mumbai city (the capital of Maharashtra state) but found out about the cancellation only after arriving at the airport.

Several fliers also took to Twitter to complain that Air India, the national carrier, had not informed them of cancellations, and had mixed up departure schedules.

Others say they only learned of cancellations after already waiting hours in long queues to enter the airport.

India has stepped up preventive measures ahead of resuming domestic flights.

Security officers are checking every passenger’s temperature and verifying that they have downloaded the government’s Covid-19 tracking app, Aarogya Setu. Other measures include disinfecting shoes and luggage.

India has recorded more than 138,000 cases of Covid-19 so far.

But the country has also begun easing restrictions on the nationwide lockdown that was imposed on 25 March. All passenger trains and flights were suspended, and most businesses were asked to close or operate only with staff working from home.

Only those that were classified as essential – healthcare, food supply, government services and media – were allowed to run during the lockdown. But now, many of these restrictions have been lifted in areas that are not deemed hotspots.

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