Domestic and international flight operations in India will resume once the government is confident that the novel coronavirus has been contained and poses no danger to the flyers, aviation minister Hardeep Singh Puri has said.
- Domestic flights have been suspended since March 25 and international passenger operations too have been banned since March 23.
- Over 650 aircraft are grounded across the country, leading to an unprecedented crisis for the airlines, passengers, and airports. It remains to be seen how the industry will be reshaped by the event.
“These restrictions will be lifted once we are fully confident that the spread of the virus has been controlled and it poses no danger to fellow Indians. I thank everyone for their cooperation and help in these testing times. Together we shall overcome and emerge stronger,” Puri tweeted.
These Restrictions will be lifted once we are fully confident that the spread of the virus has been controlled & it poses no danger to fellow Indians. I thank everyone for their cooperation & help in these testing times.— Hardeep Singh Puri (@HardeepSPuri) April 8, 2020
Together we shall overcome & emerge stronger.
India imposed a 21-day nationwide lockdown from March 25, but so far there is no clarity whether the lockdown will be lifted on April 14. Domestic flights have been suspended since March 25 and international passenger operations have been banned since March 23.
“My heart goes out to people who are facing problems due to restrictions put in place on domestic and international flights, pursuant to the situation arising out of the timely announcement of a nationwide lockdown,” Puri said in the tweet.
The situation has stranded many Indians across the world and hundreds of citizens in the country are also in a difficult situation without any mode of transport to travel to their respective hometowns. Indian Railways has also stopped services while state borders have been sealed to dissuade inter-state road travel.
Over 650 aircraft are grounded across the country, leading to an unprecedented crisis for the airlines, passengers, and airports. It remains to be seen how the industry will be reshaped by the event.
It is important to note that just ahead of lockdown commencement, aviation regulator the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) had asked airlines, airports and ground handling agencies to ensure that passengers maintain a 1-meter distance between them in the waiting areas, lounges, check-in counters, boarding areas and in the aircraft as well.
Airlines were also asked to ensure that there is a 1-meter gap between passengers in the flight as well and that meant keeping the seat adjacent to a passenger empty. This translated into the aircraft seating capacity shrinking by 33 percent. It is expected that a similar protocol will be put into place once the flights resume.
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