Domestic passenger flight services will resume from May 25 in a calibrated manner, Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said on Wednesday. The minister, however, did not say as to when international passenger flights would resume.
All scheduled commercial passenger flights have been suspended in India since March 25, when the Modi government imposed lockdown to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.
“Domestic civil aviation operations will recommence in a calibrated manner from Monday, May 25, 2020. All airports and air carriers are being informed to be ready for operations from 25 May,” Puri said on Twitter.
“SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) for passenger movement are also being separately issued by the Ministry of Civil Aviation,” he added.
Puri had on Tuesday said the Centre alone cannot take a decision on resuming passenger flights and the state governments should be ready to allow these services in the spirit of cooperative federalism.
SpiceJet Chairman and Managing Director Ajay Singh welcomed the decision to resume passenger services.
“We welcome the government’s decision to recommence domestic civil aviation operations from May 25. This resumption will go a long way in lifting the overall economic sentiment in the country. While the SOP for resumption of operations and details of flights to be operated is still awaited, we are sure that this much-awaited move will help a large number of passengers by providing them access to the safest and the quickest means of transport,” he said.
The aviation sector has been hit hard by the pandemic as various countries, including India, decided to suspend commercial flights completely to curb the spread of the virus.
Since March 25, Indian airlines have taken steps like firing expat pilots, announcing pay cuts and leave without pay for employees to conserve cash.
The first, second and third phase of lockdown were between March 25-April 14, April 15-May 3 and May 4-May 17, respectively. The fourth phase started from May 18 and would end on May 31.
Cargo flights, medical evacuation flights, offshore helicopter operations and special flights approved by the aviation regulator DGCA have been allowed to operate as usual during the lockdown period. The virus has infected more than 1.06 lakh people and killed more than 3,300 people in India so far.