NEW DELHI: India has suspended all domestic flights, effective midnight 24 March, to contain the spread of COVID-19 pandemic that has claimed thousands of lives across the world.
"Domestic schedule commercial airlines shall cease operations with effect from 25 March," said a senior government official.
"No domestic flights will be allowed to operate after 23.59 IST (1159 pm) on 24 March," the official said adding the government is yet to decide on when to restart domestic flight operations.
The official said all airlines will have to plan operations in such a way so that they are able to land by 1159 pm on 24 March.
"The restrictions shall not apply to solely cargo carrying flights," the official added.
The government's latest decision to suspend domestic flights come after several states like Bihar and West Bengal reached out to the central government to stop flights to contain the spread of COVID-19.
The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly lowered demand for travel, with border closures, travel bans and country lock downs hitting aviation businesses world over.
Globally, over 14,717 people have died due to COVID-19, while the number of those infected crossed 339,645, according to the latest data by Johns Hopkins University.
Many governments, including the US, have implemented a temporary travel ban. Indian government has also imposed a temporary ban on foreigners entering the country.