COVID-19: India to restart domestic traffic on 25 May

Country still technically in lock-down mode so some confusion over how flights will resume

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India’s civil aviation minister said the country will re-start domestic flights on 25 May “in a calibrated manner” as the country still remains in lock-down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Flights to the subcontinent have been suspended since 25 March. Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said airports and air carriers are being informed to be ready for operations and special operating procedures for passenger movement are also being issued by the Ministry of Civil Aviation.

A screenshot of the COVID-19 virus tracking map produced by Johns Hopkins University taken on 21 May. To access the live site, click on the image. (PHOTO: Matt Driskill)

There appears to be some confusion within the country as some airlines started accepting bookings for flights from 1 June onward and the country’s Ministry of Home Affairs has not changed the country’s lockdown removal date of 31 May as yet.

The move to reopen the domestic sector couldn’t come soon enough for the India aviation industry. The Indian arm of the CAPA aviation consultancy warned in early May that India’s government and all sectors of the aviation industry need to come together to change the shape of Indian aviation from the ground up if it is to survive the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The current COVID crisis must be used to initiate structural changes for the long-term viability of the sector. The industry will need to make some hard choices. Despite carriers being pushed to the limit, most airline promoters have shown themselves to be either unable or unwilling to recapitalise their businesses,” CAPA India said in its May report. “Perhaps this is due to uncertainty about the way out, or the possibility of another major shock down the road. Will it be a case of throwing good money after bad?”

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