NEW DELHI: No flights will operate to Kolkata from Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, Nagpur, Chennai and Ahmedabad between 6 July and 19 July, the Airports Authority of India (AAI)-operated Kolkata Airport said on Twitter on Saturday.
The decision to curtail flights to West Bengal comes after the state government on 30 June wrote to the civil aviation secretary, Pradeep Singh Kharola, requesting the central government not to schedule flights from cities that have high covid-19 cases like Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, Nagpur, Chennai, Indore, Ahmedabad and Surat to Kolkata and Bagdogra airports for a fortnight starting 6 July.
"West Bengal is also witnessing a steep rise in cases. A large number of cases has been reported from people coming in the State from outside with infection," West Bengal's chief secretary Rajiva Sinha said in his letter to the civil aviation secretary.
"(The) government of West Bengal has decided to stop or curtail movement of incoming flights and trains into the State," Sinha added.
A copy of the letter has been reviewed by Mint.
According to reports, Kharola, had asked the West Bengal government to reconsider its request for flight curtailment to Kolkata and Bagdogra airports after the recent decision by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to increase the cap on flight operations from 33% to 45% of total capacity of airlines.
However, the civil aviation ministry has heeded the West Bengal government's request.
Kolkata airport operates about 60-65 daily flights currently, down from over 220 flights a day before the lockdown.
The West Bengal government's move to curtail flights from major cities into Kolkata is opposite to the central government's move of Unlock 2.0 to open the economy for income generation, said Nishant Pitti, chief executive and co-founder of online travel company EaseMyTrip.
"Only essential travel is taking place these days and people with desperate desire will find other ways, including road and others, to travel to the desired place. Hence, this move will have very limited impact on the spread of the virus, but will definitely add to a lot of chaos for the public in general," Pitti added.