Hardeep Singh Puri, Minister of Civil Aviation, in a tweet has said that the government is yet to take any decision on resumption of flight services both on domestic and international sectors. A senior Civil Aviation Ministry official earlier told PTI that the government is likely to allow domestic and international flight operations in India in a staggered manner post the 21-day lockdown period which is slated to end on April 14.
The minister reacted to the report claiming it to be a mere speculation and said the correct position was spelt out on 2nd April 2020. The minister earlier tweeted that the services of international flights will most likely resume from April 15 depending on case-to-case basis, and on basis of country of arrival and departure.
The aviation sector has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. On Sunday, Air Deccan became the latest casualty of the crisis as it announced indefinite suspension of flight operations and asked all employees to go on sabbatical without pay.
"As the virus is still spreading in India, we are thinking to permit domestic and international flight operations post April 14 in a staggered manner. Airlines are free to take bookings for any date post April 14," a senior Civil Aviation Ministry official said.
"However, if the lockdown is extended post April 14, airlines will have to cancel the tickets booked for that time period," the official noted.
All major airlines except Air India are taking domestic bookings for dates post April 14. Air India is taking bookings for dates post April 30 only.
As it has sent all employees on sabbatical without pay, Air Deccan is not taking any bookings and it is not clear when it would restart operations.
As revenues have fallen significantly, IndiGo has announced a pay cut of up to 25 per cent for its senior employees and Vistara has announced a compulsory leave without pay of up to three days for its senior employees in March.
SpiceJet has stated that its employees' salaries would be reduced between 10 to 30 per cent and Air India has announced a 10 per cent cut in allowances for every employee, except cabin crew, for the coming three months.
GoAir has cut salaries of its employees, laid off its expat pilots and introduced leave without pay for employees on a rotational basis.
India has imposed a 21-day lockdown from March 25 to curb spread of the coronavirus pandemic. Consequently, all domestic and international commercial passenger flights have been suspended for this time period.
However, cargo flights, offshore helicopter operations, medical evacuation flights and special flights permitted by Indian aviation regulator DGCA are permitted to operate during this lockdown.