Domestic flight operations in India will resume once the state governments are ready to open airports, civil aviation minister Hardeep Singh Puri has clarified. The Centre alone can not make a decision in this regard, he said.
"It is not upto @MoCA_GoI or centre alone to decide on resuming domestic flights. In the spirit of cooperative federalism, the govt of states where these flights will take off & land should be ready to allow civil aviation operations," said Puri on social-networking platform Twitter.
Commercial flight operations in the country have been suspended since March 25 when the government first imposed a nationwide lockdown. India has since extended the lockdown thrice. The fourth phase of lockdown will remain in force till May 31 to mitigate the spread of the virus. The Centre on Sunday allowed interstate travel and local transport during the lockdown 4.0. Most of the states have permitted taxis, auto-rickshaw and buses to ply on roads. However, flight services will remain prohibited till the month end. Cargo, medical evacuation, and special flights have been operating during the lockdown.
The Airports Authority of India has issued guidelines for the resumption of flights in a “graded manner". Passengers will need to follow stringent social distancing norms like maintaining at least four-feet distance from other co-passengers once the operation resumes. Masks will be mandatory for all.
The civil aviation minister said airport operations are likely to open only in a graded manner with nearly 25-30% of capacity initially. A number of airlines have started accepting bookings from passengers for domestic flights from June onwards. Private carriers like IndiGo and Vistara said they were taking bookings for domestic flights. Earlier, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) had pulled up airlines for selling tickets even as the lockdown remained in force.