Déjà vu: IGIA to suspend T2 operations from May 18; all flights to and from T3

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NEW DELHI: Delhi’s IGI airport will suspend operations at terminal 2 (T2) from 12.01am on next Tuesday (May 18) and T3 alone — like April-September 2020 — will be used by all international and domestic passengers. The decision comes due to the sharp fall in air travel during the unfolding Covid catastrophe in India. A Dial official said the other reason for this move is to “consolidate all operations in one terminal to reduce manpower requirement during the pandemic.”
In last few days IGIA has seen its daily footfall crash to below 20% of pre-Covid level. India’s busiest airport is learnt to be witnessing just 30,000-40,000 daily passengers — combined figure for domestic and international arrivals and departures — these days, as opposed to 2 lakh per day till last March.
Mumbai airport is also handling all passenger flights from one terminal for the same reason. IndiGo announced on its website, “Delhi terminal update: Effective May 18, 2021, all flights will arrive and depart from Terminal 3.”
The ferocity of the second wave — and the trauma it has unleashed in the country — has seen airline doing something unimaginable for commercial organisations: advising people to remain home and travel only if necessary. For instance, Air India has tweeted, “Stay indoors, stay safe. If, for some reason, air travel is a must, we have kept our planes safe and sanitised just for you. Please be safe, on ground or in flight.”
Tata Group’s Vistara also tweeted recently, “With the overwhelming number of active Covid cases, it is imperative we all remain cautious and follow all safety precautions diligently. We urge to travel only if necessary and if you do, please follow all safety protocols which help us in keeping the skies safe for you.”
Almost 20 countries have in last fortnight imposed travel restrictions from India, some even suspending flights. And domestic travel has witnessed a sharp drop due to testing requirements by various states. As a result, the current level of domestic-cum-international traffic is down to a level that can be handled by T3 alone — like last year.
Delhi airport’s T2 was reopened for domestic flights last October when domestic air travel had started picking up after being allowed to resume in May-end. T1 is yet to reopen since last March.
IGIA was seeing an average of about 1.15-1.2 lakh passengers (domestic and international, both arriving and departing) in past couple of months before the current surge. This March, Dial was hoping to reopen T1 for operations. But just then the Tsunami of the ongoing Covid hit India.
Scheduled domestic flights restarted on May 25, 2020, with about 30,000 passengers travelling (across the country) on day one. This number kept growing as things improved. March 27, 2021, for instance, saw 2.8 lakh domestic passengers (across the country) on 2,336 flights. This pan-India number fell to 87,000 on May 9, according to aviation ministry’s tweets.

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