KOLKATA: Separated by the twin barriers of the Covid-19 lockdown and then cyclone Amphan, a young single father from the city finally got to meet his newborn twins on Friday, a staggering 57 days after they were born via surrogacy in Delhi.
Longing to meet his bundles of joy for close to two months, Salt lake resident Abhishek Paul, in his late 30s, managed to fly to Delhi from Kolkata on his fourth attempt on Friday morning, a day after domestic flights resumed from the city. And when, a few hours later, he held them in his arms (after he thoroughly sanitised himself, of course), he could not stop the tears from flowing.
“It was the best feeling in the world,” Paul says. “I had waited for just that moment all this while. But when I was finally there with the babies, I asked the nurse for a moment to sanitise myself. I sanitised my hands again and again and when I finally held them, I started to cry.”
“It was such a painful wait. As I held them, the babies were not crying. One of them just stared at the new strange face, while the other one closed his eyes in comfort. I will never forget this moment,” Paul says over the phone, his voice choking with emotion.
Paul, who manages a family publishing business, had opted for surrogacy last year at an IVF clinic in Delhi. His wife had passed away in 2013 while she had been six months pregnant. “I was all set to become a father when my wife died. I haven’t remarried but I always wanted to become a father,” he says.
The surrogate mother gave birth to twin baby boys on April 2, but the single father — 1,600km away — had no option to rush to the hospital to see them because of the lockdown. As a result, the babies had to extend their stay at the hospital’s baby care centre.
Paul had to rely on daily video calls and occasional “activity videos” sent by doctors and nurses. “Since the day they were born, I have been spending my days checking out each video sent by the doctors and nurses, all the while wondering when I could pick them up in my arms,” he says.
Paul had first booked his air tickets to Delhi for April 15, when the first lockdown was scheduled to end. But, with the lockdown extended, his ticket got cancelled. Next, he booked tickets on May 25, a day after domestic flights were scheduled to resume nationally. But because of Amphan, flight resumption was deferred in Kolkata, and his ticket got cancelled again. Then he booked a ticket for May 28, the day flights started from Kolkata, but much to his misery, the flight got cancelled. Finally, he bought tickets for Friday and reached Delhi on Friday afternoon with his mother, a cousin and a friend.
The twins — Adhyayan and Abahan — were finally handed over to Paul around 6pm, four hours after they had first met. Paul has return tickets booked for the six of them on Sunday morning. “We need to be extra cautious while returning to ensure the babies and us don’t catch any infection, and we will take all precautions,” said Paul.



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Parth Samthaan

Parth Samthaan

TV actor Parth Samthaan boarded a domestic flight on Monday amid the coronavirus crisis.

  • News18.com
  • Last Updated: May 26, 2020, 8:37 AM IST

After some initial hiccups, India on Monday resumed domestic passenger flight services, exactly two months after these operations were suspended due to the Covid-19 outbreak. A total of 532 domestic flights were operated which ferried 39,231 passengers across the country.

Barring just Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal, domestic flight services operated across most states. With the resumption in services amid the coronavirus crisis, Kasautii Zindagii Kay actor Parth Samthaan boarded a domestic flight, possibly to his hometown.

Parth also shared several glimpses of his experience of travelling amid the Covid-19 scare. He showed a long queue of people outside the Mumbai airport on his camera and was himself seen covered in face mask and protective shield. A few hours later, Parth shared glimpses of homemade food, which indicated he has laded safely at his place of destination.

Parth also later drove to Hyderabad, as he shared on his Instagram stories.

(With news agency inputs)

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KOLKATA: Domestic flights to and from Kolkata will resume from May 28 (Thursday), instead of May 25 (Monday), following a request of Bengal government on Saturday, which cited the twin crisis of Covid-19 pandemic and cyclone disaster in south Bengal. Flights to Bagdogra will also resume on May 28.
The decision was conveyed to Kolkata airport director Kaushik Bhattacharjee by the ministry of civil aviation secretary Pradeep Singh Kharola on Sunday evening, hours before the first flight was slated to take off from the city on Monday morning. All airlines were on tenterhooks till the decision was announced around 7.45pm on Sunday.

Sources said the number of flights would also be scaled down significantly from around 93 mentioned in the initial list to around 20. The Maharashtra government has limited the number of Mumbai- bound flights to 25 while Telangana government has said it will allow only 15 flights to Hyderabad.
The delay in operations has led to discontentment among flyers, airlines and travel agents with the ire being directed at the civil aviation ministry and regulator DGCA for not consulting the states before announcing the commencement date.
“The manner, in which the flight resumption was handled, is immature and ad hoc. More planning and coordination goes into introduction of an inter-state bus route. The opinions of the state government should have been sought before the date was announced. That would have spared so much confusion in the industry and people,” said travel agent Manoj Saraf.
While GoAir had refused to open its bookings from May 25, citing the lack of clarity and confusion over the flight operations, other airines that went by the DGCA order and opened bookings are now in a quandary over what to do with hundreds of passengers who have booked flights between May 25 and May 27.
“This is the third instance of bookings being opened and then flights being cancelled since the lockdown was announced. Not only does this lead to loss of passenger confidence in the airline, it also reflects very poorly on the airline industry in India,” said an airline official.
Confused over whether this will again lead to problems in refunding the tickets, passengers frantically called travel agents and airline offices. Till late on Sunday, there was no clarity on the issue. “Many passengers already have their money stuck in credit notes issued earlier by airlines. But processing the credit notes for tickets purchased via travel agents is still a problem. Those desperate to travel put in their money again to book tickets. What will happen if it gets stuck in credit notes once again?” he said.



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KOLKATA: The civil aviation regulator has released a provision schedule for a whopping 93 fights out of Kolkata on Monday, the first day of domestic flights resuming operations after they were grounded on March 24 to prevent the spread of novel coronavirus. Those stranded outside the city, and those from outside stuck in Kolkata, have been waiting for an opportunity to return home. But an initial lukewarm response to the flights, primarily due to concerns over Covid, has led to apprehensions that several flights may ultimately be either clubbed or cancelled.
Kolkata airport authorities, as well as members of the travel trade community, had expected to restart operations with 30-40 flights out of the city and a steady ramp up thereafter. But the provision list of 93 flights issued by Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has taken everyone by surprise. Though travel agents in the city said they were glad to be back in business and have customers actually pay for tickets rather than just demand refund, they were also apprehensive that too many flights had been announced at a time when demand was based only on emergency travel.

“The response to opening of ticket sales has been lukewarm. Only those with emergency requirement will travel. People are still wary of Covid-19 and reluctant to fly. Most companies have made online meetings a norm and corporate travel has reduced,” said Gainwell Travels MD Manoj Saraf.
Anil Punjabi, managing director of AR-ES Travels and chairman of the eastern region chapter of Travel Agents Federation of India (TAFI), said the government decision to not keep the middle seat empty could also have spooked some. “An American citizen who has to fly to Delhi and then take a Vande Bharat flight next week was initially keen on taking the flight. But after learning that passengers would sit shoulder to shoulder, he wants to do the journey by car. That will cost him Rs 40,000-Rs 50,000, four-five times the flight fare,” he said.
An official at the airport said the final list to be released on Saturday will probably have fewer flights. But if it is unchanged, an airline official said flights may be clubbed together or cancelled if the passenger count remained low. That, travel agents said, could be another concern as the airline would take recourse to providing a credit note to passengers instead of refunding the amount.
Of the 93 flights, IndiGo has 37, including the day’s first departure to Bengaluru at 5.20am. The Air India-Alliance Air combine has 25 followed by 17 flights by SpiceJet. Vistara will operate eight flights while Air Asia will operate 6. GoAir is conspicuous by its absence.



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