Domestic flights to resume from May 25

In a major relief to stranded passengers, the Civil Aviation Ministry has announced that domestic passenger flight services will resume in a calibrated manner from May 25, exactly two months after the nation-wide lockdown started.

Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri, who had earlier hinted at resumption of commercial flight services before June 1, announced it from his Twitter account. “All airports and air carriers are being informed to be ready for operations from 25th May. (The) SOPs (standard operating procedures) for passenger movement are also being separately issued by the Ministry of Civil Aviation,” he said in the tweet, creating a flutter in the aviation circles.

Sources in the aviation ministry indicated that at least one-third of flights on each route are likely to be allowed to resume for each airline, and flights could start services to all airports. The restriction of keeping middle seats empty may not be brought in. The ministry officials were busy finalising the schedules and logistics before Puri addresses a media conference on Thursday afternoon.

Though the ministry sources said the airlines could be asked to open bookings from Thursday, which would give them just four days before the flights operate, the airlines said they could not open the bookings till it was clear which cities they can operate to, and whether they have to operate only in green zones or other zones as well.

Ajay Singh, chairman and managing director, SpiceJet, welcomed the decision. “This resumption will go a long way in lifting the overall economic sentiment in the country. While the SOPs for resumption of operations and details of flights to be operated are 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,” he said.

Low-cost carrier IndiGo, which holds the highest 49 per cent of the domestic market share, said, “We welcome the decision and are excited to be back in operations, connecting our customers to people and places they love.”

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