The Civil Aviation Ministry on Wednesday announced that the domestic flight operations will recommence from May 25 in a calibrated manner, amid the coronavirus COVID-19 lockdown. Commercial flights have been suspended since March 25 when the country-wide lockdown began to curb the spread of coronavirus.
All the airports and air carriers are being informed to be ready for operations from May 25, announced Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri. The special operating procedures (SOPs) for passenger movement are also being separately issued by the Ministry of Civil Aviation, he added.
Domestic civil aviation operations will recommence in a calibrated manner from Monday 25th May 2020.
All airports & air carriers are being informed to be ready for operations from 25th May.
SOPs for passenger movement are also being separately issued by @MoCA_GoI.
— Hardeep Singh Puri (@HardeepSPuri) May 20, 2020
Taking to Twitter, Puri said, "Domestic civil aviation operations will recommence in a calibrated manner from Monday 25th May 2020. All airports & air carriers are being informed to be ready for operations from 25th May. SOPs for passenger movement are also being separately issued by the Ministry Civil Aviation."
In its guideline for the fourth phase of lockdown till May 31, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) had said that all domestic and international air travel of passengers will be prohibited, except for domestic medical services, domestic air ambulance and for security purposes.
On May 19, some airlines started bookings for flights from June onwards, news agency PTI reported quoting sources. A SpiceJet spokesperson, however, had said its international bookings are closed till June 15. "Domestic airlines have opened bookings for their flights from June onwards," PTI sources had said on May 18.
Sources at IndiGo and Vistara said they were taking bookings for domestic flights. When PTI contacted, a SpiceJet spokesperson, in a statement, said," Our international bookings are closed till June 15."
On May 18, Air Passengers Association of India (APAI) National President Sudhakara Reddy had flagged about some airlines' commencing bookings. "We understand 6E (IndiGo), SpiceJet, GoAir hv started taking bookings for international flights, imagining that flights will operate from 1st June. Pl don't fall for it. Ur money will become a credit shell, instead keep it safe at home," he claimed in a tweet.
Soon after the nationwide lockdown was extended till May 31, aviation regulator DGCA on Sunday said all scheduled commercial passenger flights have been suspended till May 31 midnight. "Foreign and domestic airlines shall be suitably informed about the opening of their operations whether international to or from India or domestic, respectively, in due course," it added.
After airlines did not refund customers in cash in the initial phase of the lockdown for the cancelled flights, the civil aviation ministry had asked domestic carriers to give a full refund to customers seeking cancellation of tickets booked during that period.
The advisory was issued after several people complained on social media about their ordeal with domestic airlines which decided not to give a refund in cash for cancelled flights due to the lockdown and instead issued credit shell for future travel.
The ministry had said any ticket booked between the lockdown period of March 25 to May 3 is entitled to get full refund without any cancellation charges. There has been no advisory since then.