Restrictions on domestic and international flights will be lifted when the government is sure that spread of coronavirus has been controlled, and represents no danger to Indians, Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said on Monday, in the midst of reports of certain aircraft doing open bookings.
Flight Operations to Be Resumed Only After the COVID Controls, Civil Aviation Minister
In a progression of tweets, the minister also said a directive was given on Sunday to aircraft, limiting them from doing open bookings since they didn’t regard to government’s advice on the issue.
“I want to once again say that flight restrictions that are in place as a result of India’s fight against COVID-19 will be lifted once we are confident that spread of the virus has been controlled and it poses no danger to our country and people,” he tweeted.
The minister said, “since some airlines did not heed our advisory and opened bookings, and started collecting money from flyers, a directive was issued to them on 19th April restraining them from doing so. They were also informed that they will be given sufficient notice and time to commence bookings.”
While government-run Air India halted the bookings after the government’s advisory, private carriers ignored it and kept taking bookings for travel after May 3, inciting the aviation controller DGCA to give around on Sunday.
“All airlines are hereby directed to refrain from booking tickets… Further, the airlines may note that they shall be given sufficient notice and time for restarting operations,” the circular said.
All domestic and international business traveler flights have been suspended for the lockdown time frame. However, permitted flights and special flights, allowed by the DGCA, can fly during the span of the lockdown.
Meanwhile, a few travelers have posted their complaints via social media against Indian aircraft for not refunding booking amounts for flights dropped due to the coronavirus lockdown, and rather giving credit vouchers for future travel.
On April 16, the aviation ministry said that travelers can approach aircraft for full refunds if the bookings were done during the first phase of lockdown go up to May 3.
In any case, the government has not taken any decision so far on whether full refunds ought to be given to travelers who booked their tickets before the lockdown started for travel during the March 25-May 3 period.
The first phase of the lockdown was from March 25 to April 14, and was later extended by 19 days till May 3.