Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri on Thursday said that airlines can take domestic bookings after April 14 if the 21-day lockdown is not extended further. As far as the civil aviation ministry is concerned, it is proceeding on the basis of the understanding that the lockdown is till mid-April, Puri said while addressing a video press conference.
“Now, what do the airlines do as a part of their contingency planning and to prepare for the future, it is entirely up to the airline. There is no directive from us,” said Puri. “But as someone who is always an eternal optimist, I am hoping that from April 15, the flights can at least start-if not everything then in a calibrated manner,” he added.
International flights to be permitted after April 15
Giving details on the operation of international flights, Puri said that flights will be considered on a case-by-case basis, depending on which countries they are coming from, after April 15 when the 21-day lockdown to fight the coronavirus ends in India.
“The lockdown is till April 15. And, we can start considering the resumption of flights on a case-by-case basis depending on where they are coming from after that,” Puri said.
Puri also said Indians who are stranded in several foreign countries will have to wait till April 15 to return, adding that flights taking foreign nationals to their countries from India will not bring back any passengers.
“Any incoming flights to bring Indians back home will have to await the lifting of the lockdown,” he added.
India has allowed countries like the US, UK and Germany to conduct special flights during the lockdown to take their citizens back home. Air India has also extended its services to countries such as Germany, UK and France to facilitate the return of their citizens.
India suspended domestic and international commercial passenger flight operations from midnight on March 24 for 21 days in sync with the nation-wide lockdown. However, cargo flights, medical evacuation flights, offshore helicopter operations and flights specially permitted by the aviation regulator DGCA can operate during this time period.
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