Kolkata airport wears deserted look as cyclone ‘Remal’ forces flight suspensions


PTI, May 26, 2024, 7:28 PM IST

The terminal building of Kolkata airport wore a deserted look following the suspension of flight operations shortly after noon on Sunday due to the looming threat of severe cyclone ‘Remal’.

Such a sight was unprecedented, as the airport, typically teeming with activity like any other international hub, now stood deserted, save for security personnel, Airports Authority of India staff, and a handful of airline employees.

Saturday saw the airport authorities making the decision to halt flight operations for 21 hours starting from Sunday noon.

Passenger trolleys sat in neat rows, untouched, as there were no travelers in sight. Security remained vigilant, maintaining their usual watchful stance across the premises.

”The ambiance almost hinted at the terminal building being yet to open for operations,” an AAI official said.

The last flight out of Kolkata airport, an IndiGo bound for Bangalore, departed at 12.16 pm, after which operations ceased until 9 am on Monday, he added.

In the period leading to the suspension, 39 flights departed and 41 landed at Kolkata airport, with nine departures and seven arrivals being canceled between early morning and noon, the AAI spokesperson said.

During the 21-hour flight suspension, a total of 394 flights, both domestic and international, will be affected, disrupting travel plans for many passengers.

Airlines like Air India, Vistara, IndiGo, and SpiceJet began issuing travel advisories from Saturday night onwards via their social media platforms, providing updates and guidance to passengers.

In a press statement on Sunday, IndiGo said it ”has rescheduled and cancelled some flights due to Cyclone Remal. Passengers have been informed of all changes in advance and being provided real-time updates on social platforms. Mitigation measures have been put in place to avoid inconvenience caused to passengers due to the cyclone.” In light of cyclone Remal’s potential impact, Kolkata airport authorities took precautionary measures, aligning with meteorological reports forecasting heavy winds and rainfall. The decision to suspend operations was made following a stakeholders’ meeting on Saturday, chaired by NSCBI Airport director C Pattabhi, based on the forecast indicating wind speeds exceeding 50 to 60 knots, with gusts up to 70 knots.

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