Govt to take decision on resuming train, airline services, any discussion futile: Prakash Javadekar2 min read . Updated: 19 Apr 2020, 10:26 PM IST
- The ongoing nationwide lockdown to combat the coronavirus pandemic, which came into effect from March 25, is scheduled to end on May 3
- A final decision on the issue will be taken by the government, Prakash Javadekar said, advising against any speculation over the matter
NEW DELHI : Union minister Prakash Javadekar made it clear on Sunday that the Centre has not taken any decision on starting train or flight services for passengers so far, while asserting that any discussion on the issue is futile.
Asked if the government is looking at a timeline to start passenger transport services such as trains or flights, he told PTI, "It has to start one day, but which is that one day you do not know at this moment. Discussion about it is futile because we are examining the situation every day and drawing new lessons."
Some airlines decided on their own to open bookings from May 4, Javadekar said, while noting that Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri has already clarified that the government has not taken any decision in this regard.
A final decision on the issue will be taken by the government, he said, advising against any speculation over the matter.
The ongoing nationwide lockdown to combat the coronavirus pandemic, which came into effect from March 25, is scheduled to end on May 3.
Some airlines, including state-run Air India, had opened bookings on select domestic routes from May 4, prompting Puri to advise them to do so only after the government takes a decision on starting domestic and international commercial passenger flight services.
"The Ministry of Civil Aviation clarifies that so far no decision has been taken to open domestic or international operations.... Airlines are advised to open their bookings only after a decision in this regard has been taken by the government," the minister said on Saturday.
The Indian Railways had stopped booking passenger tickets since Prime Minister Narendra Modi's address to the nation on April 14, in which he extended the lockdown till May 3.
While Air India stopped taking flight bookings following Puri's statement, private airlines continued to book tickets, saying they had not received any notice from the Aviation Ministry in this regard.
An AirAsia India spokesperson told PTI that the lockdown announced by the government is till May 3 and hence, flights are available for bookings May 4 onwards.
"We shall await the ministry's notice in this regard. We have suspended operations and sales until May 3, following the last circular," a Vistara spokesperson said.
"Once there is clarity on steps to be taken beyond that date, we will comply accordingly," he added.
Air India officials, however, said they have stopped all forward bookings and any passenger who has booked tickets on a flight that has been cancelled will be getting a credit voucher for future travel.
Later in the day, aviation regulator DGCA moved to stop airlines from taking bookings.
The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) issued a circular in the evening, stating: "All airlines are hereby directed to refrain from booking tickets.... Further, the airlines may note that they shall be given sufficient notice and time for restarting operations."