India plans to restart domestic civil aviation in a “calibrated manner” from 25 May.
Civil aviation minister Hardeep Singh Puri said in a 20 May Twitter post that all airports and airlines are being informed to be ready for operations from that date.
He added that standard operating procedures for passenger movement are separately being issued by the Ministry of Civil Aviation.
The announcement apparently came as a surprise to several airlines in India, which learnt about the decision only following Puri’s Tweet, local newspaper Economic Times reported.
Likewise, an IndiGo spokesperson tells Cirium that it learnt of the government’s decision to allow the restart of domestic flights from Twitter.
It also says in a statement it will be resuming operations from 25 May in a “phased manner”.
“We are fully prepared with safety measures with regard to Covid-19 across all our passenger and CarGo interfaces during their journey with us. We will share further details and guidelines for passengers, in line with the advisory from the authorities over the next few days.”
SpiceJet says it welcomes the decision, adding: “This resumption will go a long way in lifting the overall economic sentiment in the country. While the SOP (standard operating procedures) for resumption of operations and details of flights to be operated is still awaited, we are sure that this much awaited move will help a large number of passengers by providing them access to the safest and quickest means of transport.
“SpiceJet is all geared up to resume operations post-lockdown and is committed to providing the highest level of cleanliness and a safe, secure and healthy flying experience to its passengers and staff. We will strictly adhere to social distancing norms and SOPs laid down by the government to ensure the best, the cleanest and the most sanitised flying experience.”
Cirium has contacted other Indian carriers for comment.
India’s airlines and the travelling public were expecting all flights to be banned until at least 23:59 on 31 May, per a previous announcement from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).
Cirium schedules data show that in 2018 and 2019, domestic flights made up 85% of air traffic from India.
The data also show that IndiGo has the lion’s share of the domestic market at nearly 52%, having offered nine million seats in February, before the country implemented lockdown measures in March.