After allowing train bookings, the government is likely to allow airlines to resume operations. According to media reports, airlines could start operating local passenger flights by May 18.
Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Puri has hinted that the government is considering allowing airlines to resume domestic flights in a week and an announcement to this effect could be made by Wednesday, reports suggest.
On Sunday, a joint team comprising of officials from the Ministry of Civil Aviation, DGCA, Airports Authority of India, and Bureau of Civil Aviation Security office had visited the Indira Gandhi International Airport to review the preparedness.
The matter was likely discussed at the meeting between PM Narendra Modi and chief ministers of states on Monday.
"We are ready to start the operations. Whenever the government permits us, we will take little time to resume," an official with the Airports Authority of India told Mint.
Resumption of flights after Railways allowed to run trains
Resumption of flight services comes after the government allowed the operation of passenger trains in a phased manner from May 12. The domestic flights would first begin between Delhi and select cities. However, strict social distancing measures along with additional airport procedures would be applicable to passengers.
Change in regulation for flight passengers
Passengers could expect a change in reporting time. Unlike pre-lockdown rule, passengers would now be expected to report much earlier than the previous 45-minutes before the departure reporting time.
To minimize the chances of infection, passengers would have to undergo screening at the departure airport. Mandatory use of maks, face shields, and gloves would also be enforced and only the asymptomatic passengers would be allowed to board the plane.
The government had canceled all modes of transport including trains and flights in the wake of nation-wide lockdown to curb the spread of coronavirus. The lockdown that started on March 25, has been extended thrice, and the last date of the third phase is May 17.
There has been all-round demand for resuming the transport services as lakhs of people, mostly laborers, and other migrant workers, are stuck in various parts of the country.
Besides, the prolong suspension of trains and flights was turning out to be economically inviable for airlines.
However, there has been no decision about allowing international flights as currently, almost every country is dealing with this problem as per their situation. Issues of security and health safety are being considered very seriously while planning any rescue or essential services.
No decision about international flights
Even though India has started bringing back its citizens stranded in countries around the world, the effort is meant only for those whose visas to stay in that country have expired.
The option of 'Credit Shell' for passengers
For domestic flights, passengers who had booked their tickets before the lockdown have the option of availing "credit shell."
After the lockdown order, flights instead of returning the money to the passengers had created a credit shell of the same amount so that passengers could use it when the flights are resumed.
It has one difficulty though, passengers would have to book the ticket with the same airline which they had initially booked a ticket with.
Besides, all passengers would be required to download the Aarogya Setu app before they can board the plane.