Covid-19: All domestic, international flight ops to remain suspended till May 3
All domestic, international flight operations have been suspended till May 3 in view of the extended nationwide lockdown announced earlier today by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to fight the coronavirus pandemic.
“All domestic and international scheduled airlines operations shall remain suspended till 11.59 pm of 3rd May 2020,” the civil aviation ministry said.
To be clear, India at present, is also not allowing flights to rescue stranded Indian citizens abroad.
The PM underlined that the energy of “we the people” will have to be harnessed to fight the coronavirus battle.
“In my discussions with the state governments, and various stakeholders, one thing was unanimous: That we should extend the lockdown. So, I announce today that the lockdown will be extended till May 3,” PM Modi said this morning.
On April 3, national carrier Air India was the first to stop advance bookings for all flights till April 30.
All modes of conveyance, including rail traffic, road and air transport, have been suspended after the lockdown came into effect. Initially, international flights were suspended for a week from March 22 but later extended until April 15 coinciding with the lockdown. Domestic flights were suspended from the day the lockdown started on March 25.
On April 11, Hindustan Times reported that suspension of commercial flights and railway travel may be extended till month-end.
India’s airport sector has prepared a ‘business continuity plan’ for probable opening of commercial flight operations post lockdown. In a letter written to the civil aviation ministry, which has been reviewed by the Hindustan Times, the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) has asked for extra security measures to be implemented for the safety of its personnel.
The CISF has prepared a ‘Business Continuity Plan’ for opening of commercial aircraft operations from the security perspective of aircraft operators, airline operators and CISF personnel, once restrictions are lifted.
The plan includes setting up of separate earmarked, isolated security checking facilities across airports for carrying out security checks of passengers, crew and others, who have undergone home quarantine or hospital quarantine during the last one month. It also proposes airlines should spread out the flight timings, to avoid a large number of passengers.
Reporting time for passengers at the airport should be increased up to 120 minutes, so that passengers may smoothly pass through all the channels like access control, random screening, check-in, Immigration (in case of International passengers) by maintaining appropriate distance, according to the plan.
Aviation regulator, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) is also preparing a standard operating procedure (SOP) to ensure social distancing among passengers and reducing contact with staff on board. This includes measures like leaving the middle seats empty.