New Delhi:Airlines can take domestic bookings after 14 April, unless the current lockdown, which has been implemented to contain the spread of contagious covid-19 virus, is further extended, aviation minister Hardeep Singh Puri said on Thursday.Speaking to reporters on a video conference, Puri added that any international flights to evacuate Indians stranded abroad will operate only after 14 April, once the current lockdown is lifted.”We can start resumption of international flights, case by case basis, after that (lockdown is revoked),” the minister said.
“We can think of resuming international flights after the government examines the situation. Both the health and home ministries have to assess that the Covid-19 outbreak is under control in other affected countries before international flights become operational again,” said Pradeep Kharola, secretary, ministry of civil aviation.The minister said incoming flights to bring back Indian nationals will remain suspended until the lockdown ends on April 15.
“We’re under lockdown till April 15. Any incoming flights to bring back Indian nationals will have to wait until the lockdown is lifted,” Puri said. “We can start considering the resumption of (international) flights on a case by case basis depending on where they are coming from,” he added.
Airlines are open to start advance bookings as per their own discretion and contingency plan, the minister said.“The ministry is proceeding on the understanding that the lockdown is in place till April 15. There is no directive from the ministry about the contingency planning of airlines. But, as an eternal optimist, I am hoping that on April 15, flights can at least start, if not all, then in a calibrated manner. But that is a decision that we still need to take,” Puri said.
“The lockdown is till April 15. And, we can start considering the resumption of flights on a case-by-case basis depending on where they are coming from after that,” Puri said. During the last few weeks, Air India has conducted multiple flights to virus-infected cities such as Wuhan in China and Rome and Italy to bring back stranded Indian citizens. Moreover, the national carrier has been conducting flights to countries such as Germany, UK and Israel to repatriate their citizens from India.
The current Lockdown on both domestic & international passenger flights is till April 15.
A decision to restart the flights after this period remains to be taken.
— Hardeep Singh Puri (@HardeepSPuri) April 2, 2020