India is taking a more cautious approach than neighbouring Pakistan, which is looking to restart air travel.
There will be no commercial flights in India until at least June, after the government extended a lockdown until the end of this month.
A circular posted on the official Twitter account of India’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) says both domestic and international flights will now be banned up until 31 May, 23:59.
India’s previous lockdown extension and flight ban was due to end yesterday. This is now the third time the lockdown has been extended.
The restrictions do not apply to international all-cargo operations, nor to “flights specifically approved by DGCA”.
“However, it is once again reiterated that foreign and domestic airlines shall be suitably informed about the opening of their operations whether international to/from India or domestic respectively in due course,” DGCA says in the circular.
Meanwhile, Pakistan started allowing some domestic flights from 16 May, “in view of difficulties being faced by passengers in travelling between major cities in Pakistan”.
Flights with limited load factors are being allowed from five major airports, including Islamabad, Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar and Quetta, according to a circular published on Twitter by the Aviation Division of Pakistan.
Aircraft must be disinfected before boarding, there must be at least one vacant seat between passengers, and it is compulsory to wear masks and use hand sanitiser. No food and beverages will be allowed during flights.
In addition, airlines are required to maintain “emergency PPE [personal protective equipment]” in the aircraft to deal with in-flight health emergencies, while all passengers must fill out a health declaration form before boarding.
Pakistan, with a population of around 212 million, has 42,125 confirmed coronavirus cases, including 903 deaths, as at 18 May, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. India, with a population of around 1.35 billion, reported 96,169 cases, including 3,029 deaths.