Domestic flights in the country to resume operations from May 25

Domestic flights in the country to resume operations from May 25


The domestic flights that will be allowed to operate are likely to connect all major tier-I cities.

Domestic flights in the country will resume operations from May 25, two months after the services were suspended following the nationwide lockdown imposed to stop the spread of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19).

Union civil aviation minister Hardeep Puri on Wednesday announced that operations will recommence in a “calibrated manner” from Monday.

“All airports and air carriers are being informed to be ready for operations from 25th May. Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for passenger movement are also being separately issued by civil aviation ministry,” he tweeted.

The domestic flights that will be allowed to operate are likely to connect all major tier-I cities.

Airports will facilitate limited domestic flights in phases and may be at 30% capacity to facilitate social distancing, the Airport Authority of India had stated in a set of guidelines for resumption of service post-lockdown, Hindustan Times had reported on April 30.

India has also launched a concerted repatriation programme, by sea and air, to bring back stranded citizens stuck in various parts of the world, but with a strict set of preconditions to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

All measures for social distancing and screening will be followed at the airports, officials said.

Middle seats inside the plans may not be left vacant, an idea that was being considered earlier by the ministry, officials aware of the development said. The government may also not allow senior citizens aged above 80 years to board the flights. Passengers may have to be quarantined as per the state government’s protocols.

The government may also introduce a cap on airfares, this is being done to protect the consumers and airlines as a temporary measure, officials said.

In its guidelines for the fourth phase of lockdown, the home ministry had said all domestic and international passenger flights will remain suspended till May 31. Both domestic and international cargo flight operations have remained operational since the lockdown.

The revised set of guidelines and SOP for the domestic flight operation will be issued on Wednesday, officials involved in the process said. A meeting with all airlines’ Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) is also scheduled to be held on Wednesday evening after which the SOP would be finalised, the official added.

“We have been preparing for resuming domestic flights since a while and have made all the necessary arrangements but the states had expressed some reservations on resuming the operations in a meeting held a day before the home ministry guidelines were issued,” another official said.

On Tuesday, Puri had said the state governments should be ready to allow civil aviation operations “in the spirit of cooperative federalism.”

“It is not up to civil aviation ministry or centre alone to decide on resuming domestic flights,” he had said.

Passengers will have to wear a mask and other protective gear and maintain at least four-feet physical distance from co-passengers, according to guidelines issued by the Airports Authority of India, and also may have to download the Aarogya Setu app on mobile phones.

They will also be required to wash or sanitise their hands frequently, the AAI said. On Thursday the bureau of civil aviation issued guidelines for enhancement of admissible limit of hand sanitisers to be carried in cabin baggage.

Those travelling will also have to do a web check-in before the journey. The stamping of boarding passes has also been suspended to reduce contact between passengers and security staff.

There has been no word yet on resumption of international flights.

“This resumption will go a long way in lifting the overall economic sentiment in the country. While the SOP for resumption of operations and details of flights to be operated is still awaited, we are sure that this much awaited move will help a large number of passengers by providing them access to the safest and quickest means of transport… We will strictly adhere to social distancing norms and SOPs laid down by the Government to ensure the best, the cleanest and the most sanitised flying experience,” said Ajay Singh, Chairman and Managing Director, SpiceJet.

In a draft standard operating procedures (SOPs) proposed by the civil aviation ministry, it was suggested that cabin luggage be disallowed. The SOP had also suggested passenger ID checks will not be required so as to minimise the crowd at terminal gates.

The Centre will also issue guidelines for the movement of passengers for reaching the airport from different zones including containment areas, similar to the rules for passengers travelling in trains, officials said.

“As per the government announcement made today, we will be resuming flight operations from Monday, May 25, 2020 in a phased manner. We are fully prepared with safety measures w.r.t. Covid-19 across all our passenger and CarGo interfaces during their journey with us. We will share further details and guidelines for passengers, in line with the advisory from the authorities over the next few days,” IndiGo said in a statement.