Flight services may normalise only by July

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The disrupted flight services due to the COVID-19-induced lockdown and restrictions worldwide may normalise only by July in the country.

Sources in the Ministry of Civil Aviation said that the Centre would not resume the operation of commercial flights till the scare subsides in Mumbai and Delhi where the surge in positive cases remained high in these metros.

Domestic flights

Even then only a few domestic passenger flights would be allowed to operate initially to destinations such as Bengaluru, Chennai and Hyderabad by mid-June.

In that case, no international passenger flights also would be permitted to fly till a clear decision on lifting the lockdown was taken.

Suggestions were being considered that the nationwide lockdown with conditional relaxations would be extended till May 14, the sources said.

Although the second phase of the lockdown will end on May 3, the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has restricted airline companies not to book tickets on domestic destinations till May 31.

Union Minister for Civil Aviation Hardeep Singh Puri has indicated that flight restrictions will be lifted once the government feels confident that the spread of the virus has been controlled and posed no danger to the country.

Directive

Since some airlines did not heed “our advisory and opened bookings and started collecting money from flyers”, a directive was issued to them on April 19 restraining them from doing so. They were also informed that they would be given sufficient notice and time to commence bookings, Mr. Puri tweeted.

This also means that the evacuation of non-resident Indians especially in Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) will be further delayed till the pandemic crisis is over. However, efforts such as sending medical personnel, equipment and relief assistance would continue, the sources said.

The sources said that post-lockdown operation of flights would resume in a staggered manner in the domestic and international sectors.

As of now, freight operations to international destinations had not been stopped. Besides, 314 UDAN flights had operated till now transporting medical and essential supplies to different regions in the country.

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