India’s civil aviation minister announced on Sunday, May 24, 2020, that domestic air service would restart across the country from Monday with limited operations since some states have urged the central government to continue some restrictions on the number of flights. Airlines premium carriers including IndiGo Airline (Indigo), SpiceJet Airline Ltd. (SpiceJet), and Tata SIA Airlines Ltd. or Vistara have set preparation to resume some of their operations from Monday.
Opening Domestic Flights amid Surge of Virus Cases
Civil aviation minister, Hardeep Singh Puri, said on Twitter late on Sunday that domestic flights would be resumed and airlines have preparing to resume about a third of their flight operations from Monday. The decision of opening up domestic flights was considered a result of “hard negotiations” as termed by Puri after some states sought to limit the number of flights. Nonetheless, the minister has not clarified what quarantine rules might apply to passengers.
Puri asserted on Twitter on Sunday, “It has been a long day of hard negotiations with various state governments to recommence civil aviation operations in the country…..Domestic flights will recommence across the country from tomorrow.” Meanwhile, the number of new COVID-19 cases rose by a record 24-hour amount to 6,767 on Sunday which took the total to over 131,000.
Many domestic carriers have given their signals to start operations from Monday but a Budget Indian carrier GoAir Airline announced to delay its service. The latter airline company said it would resume flight operations from June 1 as it was waiting to get clarification on the readiness of states and airports.
Some States Allow Limited Services
As per India’s federal structure, it empowers the state governments to set their own rules, which has complicated federal government’s efforts to open up the country’s economy. Nonetheless, concerning the health crisis due to the virus spread, the health ministry on Sunday asked states to design quarantine plans and ensure effective quarantine centers for the returnees from the other states.
The statements from state government officials showed that the state of Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, and West Bengal, which are the major business hubs and home to India’s busiest airports, indicated that they were not yet ready to open up for the opening up their states’ airports due to the growing numbers of the coronavirus cases.
According to Hardeep Singh Puri, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu had agreed to operate limited flights from Monday, while the southern state of Andhra Pradesh would allow flights from Tuesday. Meanwhile, West Bengal urged the central government to postpone the resumption of passenger flights to Kolkata as the state had been devastated due to the recent Cyclone Amphan. Puri said that limited aviation operations in West Bengal would start from Thursday.
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