Domestic flights on course at Delhi airport, but long wait for cabs
Domestic flight services continued as usual at the Delhi airport on the first day of the lockdown in the national capital on Monday, but there were fewer cabs to ferry passengers to their destinations in the city.
Delhi has announced an unprecedented shutdown till March 31 to stop the spread of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19), announcing curbs on vehicular movement, sealing of borders and the closure of offices.
Though cabs on the call were available at the Indira Gandhi International Airport, fewer numbers meant passengers had to wait for a long time.
On-spot cab providers stationed at the airport, such as Mega and Meru, ran their operations. Mobile application-based cab aggregator Ola also was available, even though the waiting time was up to about 15-30 minutes. Its rival, Uber, has, however, suspended services in Delhi due to the lockdown.
At the press conference on Sunday in which Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal announced the lockdown, it was initially declared that domestic flight services too will be discontinued. Later, the aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation clarified that domestic services will continue uninterrupted. India has already stopped the international operation for seven days from March 22.
At the press conference, Kejriwal also announced that only 25% of the Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) bus fleet will be on the road in the lockdown period till March 31. All Delhi Metro services, including the airport express line, are shut and will remain so till March-end.
Ola said it will provide minimum services to facilitate the movement of those catering to essential services and those in an emergency.
“Ola will continue to encourage citizens to limit travel only for essential emergency needs as per the government’s directive. We will enable a minimal network of vehicles to support essential services in cities, wherever applicable, as part of this national effort to reduce the contagion of COVID-19,” it said in a statement.
Uber, which has suspended all its services in the national capital, said: “Uber is complying with all Central and state government directives related to its services for containing the spread of Coronavirus. We are communicating the status of specific cities with riders through our app.”
In a message to its subscribers, Uber said rides will not be available until further notice.
A senior official of the airport, who did not want to be named, said, “Because International flights are banned and passengers have cut down on their domestic travel, the number of taxis plying at the airport is also less. Mega and Meru cabs and Ola are available. They’re available on call but are not lining up outside the terminal as they used to usually. A DTC bus from the airport to ISBT Kashmere Gate is also in service.”