India to resume domestic flights in ‘calibrated manner’ from May 25

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Domestic flights across the country will resume operations starting May 25, Union Minister for Civil Aviation Hardeep Puri said. This will be done in a calibrated manner. He added that all airports and air carriers are being informed to start operations from May 25.

Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for passenger movement are also being separately issued by the ministry, he added.

Flights have been suspended in the country since March 25, when the first phase of the lockdown began. International flights were stopped on March 22. During the lockdown period, only cargo flights, medical evacuation flights and special flights were allowed to operate.

With no commercial flights running for nearly two months, airlines have been struggling to stay afloat, and have been flying cargo planes as well as special flights. There have also been pay cuts across multiple airlines due to the lockdown. 

Earlier, Indian aviation regulator DGCA had said all scheduled commercial passenger flights have been suspended till May 31 midnight. Only special flights were being operated to bring back stranded Indians from other countries. 

Some airlines had begun taking bookings for flights from June 1 onwards. 

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) said, “foreign and domestic airlines shall be suitably informed about the opening of their operations whether international to or from India or domestic, respectively, in due course”.

The first, second and third phase of lockdown was between March 25 to April 14, April 15 to May 3 and May 4 to May 17, respectively. The fourth phase started from May 18 and would end on May 31. 

As per the draft SOP for the aviation sector, passengers will have to report at the airport two hours prior to the departure time. The draft SOP said: “Web check-in only. Print boarding pass, check-in baggage ticket if required.”

In the initial phase of the service resumption, no cabin baggage would be allowed and checked-in baggage would be only one unit, with a weight of less than 20 kg.

The draft added that there would be physical distance markings, disinfecting of all common areas like lifts, travelators, escalators, chairs in seating areas, food and beverage (F&B) and retail outlets would be done and availability of movable hand wash cart or alcohol based hand sanitisers at regular intervals within the terminal would be ensured. 

With agency inputs

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