India says no decision yet on easing or lifting flight restrictions



FILE PHOTO: Passengers wearing protective masks arrive to collect their luggage inside an airport following an outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in New Delhi, India, March 14, 2020. REUTERS/Anushree Fadnavis

April 19, 2020

(Reuters) – India has not yet taken a decision on when to lift or ease restrictions on domestic and international flights and urged airlines to take travel bookings only after a final decision is made, a government minister said.

The government announced a halt to domestic flights on March 23, ordering commercial airlines to shut down domestic operations on top of an existing ban on international flights to try and contain the spread of the coronavirus.

“The Ministry of Civil Aviation clarifies that so far no decision has been taken to open domestic or international operations,” civil aviation minister Hardeep Singh Puri said in a tweet late on Saturday.

“Airlines are advised to open their bookings only after a decision in this regard has been taken by the Government”, he added.

About 144 million people travelled on domestic flights last year.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a 21-day national lockdown in late March to contain the spread of the virus outbreak. The lockdown has been extended until May 3 at least.

Still, India has announced a roadmap to restart some industrial activity after April 20 in locations that are not coronavirus hotspots to try to revive the economy.

India has reported over 15,000 COVID-19 cases and more than 500 deaths as of early Sunday, according to data from the Indian government.

(Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru; editing by Richard Pullin)





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