Home >News >India >Wary states set varying rules to restart flights

Domestic airlines are treading a cautious path to resuming operations as some states continue to oppose opening up the skies with coronavirus infections showing no sign of abating, while some others have only allowed for a limited resumption of flights.

Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal will not immediately restart domestic flights, civil aviation minister Hardeep Singh Puri said on Sunday. States such as Maharashtra have only allowed a few flights each day from Mumbai airport, India’s second busiest.

“It has been a long day of hard negotiations with various state governments to recommence civil aviation operations. Except Andhra Pradesh, which will start on 26 May, and West Bengal on 28 May, domestic flights will recommence across the country from tomorrow (25 March)," Puri said in a series of tweets.

Maharashtra minister Nawab Malik said the state has agreed for 25 departures and an equal number of arrivals each day from Mumbai, despite concerns about the spread of the coronavirus infection.

In Tamil Nadu, there will be a maximum of 25 arrivals in Chennai, but there is no limit on the number of departures, Puri said.

Authorities of five states—Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka, Kerala, Assam—and the Union territory of Jammu and Kashmir have already said they will quarantine those arriving on domestic flights.

Confusion reigned supreme as different states have declared different protocols for quarantine.

While Kerala announced all travellers have to register online and undergo home quarantine for two weeks, Uttarakhand announced institutional quarantine for all incoming passengers.

This comes even as the civil aviation minister said last week that passengers need not be quarantined. However, on Sunday, Puri tweeted travel guidelines issued by the health ministry, which said states can have their own protocols for quarantine.

Although the schedule for Monday prepared by Saturday evening mentioned 1,095 flights, this could come down depending on how the situation unfolds. According to the original schedule, IndiGo, the country’s largest airline, is expected to fly about 450 flights a day, said a person familiar with the development.

Spokespersons of SpiceJet, Vistara and AirAsia India declined to comment.

An Air India spokesperson said the carrier is in a wait and watch mode. “Whatever happens, it will be the same for all airlines. So, no further comments on an issue which is beyond our purview," said a spokesperson for the carrier.

Wadia-Group controlled GoAir is, however, continuing to keep its booking window open for flights from 1 June as earlier, and not from Monday.

Kalpana Pathak contributed to this story.

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