Following a two-month lockdown domestic flights in India have started to resume service. In a statement on twitter on Monday 25 May, India’s Federal Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Puri said: “Today we restart domestic flights. India’s civil aviation is always at the forefront.”
Airlines are permitted to resume services on one-third of their approved summer 2020 schedules for domestic routes. Once domestic travel has eased, the issue of international travel can be addressed with the possibility of resuming international flights as early as June.
IndiGo, India’s largest airline is permitted to operate a maximum of 970 flights across 52 destinations. Vistara will be allowed to operate 448 flights across 25 destinations; Air India 340 flights across 37 destinations; and GoAir 178 flights across 19 destinations.
Guidelines have been issued that passengers, airports and airlines must follow including wearing face masks and arriving at the airport at least two hours prior to departure. Although airlines are not required to keep the middle seat vacant aircraft will need to be rigorously disinfected after every flight.
The decision to resume domestic services was not announced until Saturday with some states were reportedly unenthusiastic about opening up their airports in view of rising Covid-19 cases. Around 630 domestic flights on Monday 25 May were cancelled due to limited operations at major airports such as Mumbai, Chennai and Hyderabad.
According to some reports Kolkata and Bagdogra airports in cyclone-hit West Bengal were not operating any domestic flights between 25-27 May, bu twill handle a limited number of flights each daily from 28 May.
From 26 May Vijayawada and Vizag airports in Andhra Pradesh will handle just 20% of their pre-lockdown flights.
Flights have resumed despite the rate of coronavirus cases escalating in India with the death rate now exceeding 4,000.