Airlines and passengers stranded in India are likely to be informed 10 days before flight operations resume, government sources told ET. One of them suggested that services could commence in early June.
All commercial flights have been grounded since March 25. “Restarting operations will depend on the situation with respect to the number of (coronavirus) cases but the expectations are that it should start by the first week of June,” said a senior aviation ministry official.
“We plan to allow airlines to open booking 10 days prior to the restart of operations.” This only pertains to domestic services and there are currently no discussions about restarting international operations, he said.
While the government feels that 10 days are enough for airlines to restart bookings, industry executives were divided on whether it would give them time to put together a network, plan fleet deployment, implement safety guidelines and generate adequate bookings.
“Airlines would need at least 15 days to plan,” said a person close to the development.
Others said there is pent-up demand because people are stuck at various locations. Beyond that, the scenario could be bleak. “The first three-four days of 10 days, we will see a lot of bookings because of people stuck in cities. Thereafter, it will fall off a cliff,” said an airline executive.
To be sure, “the booking curve is late in India. Not many books more than 14 days out,” said a senior airline executive.
The biggest worry for airlines is the demand for air travel in the post-Covid era, given the need to maintain physical distancing and other norms.
(Source: Economic Times)
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