Govt suspends domestic air travel from March 25

Govt suspends domestic air travel from March 25 over coronavirus scare

India has already banned international flights for a week from Sunday

Representative image (Reuters Photo)

The Government, on Monday, ordered the suspension of domestic commercial flights beginning Tuesday midnight as it moved towards enforcing a complete lockdown to contain the rapidly spreading coronavirus.

“The operations of domestic schedule commercial airlines shall cease with effect from midnight that is 23.59 hours IST on 24/3/2020. Airlines have to plan operations so as to land at their destination before 23.59 hours on 24/3/2020,” the civil aviation ministry said in a statement.

However, the restrictions will not apply to cargo flights.

The government has not specified any time limit for the ban on domestic commercial airline operations.

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“We will update as and when this information is available,” a civil aviation ministry spokesman said to questions on the duration of the ban.

The Government had announced a ban on international commercial flights with effect from March 22.

The DGCA had told international and domestic airlines that no passenger aircraft will take off from any airport outside the country for any airport in India after 5:30 am IST on Sunday.

Flights that have taken off for India before 5:30 am on Sunday have been granted 20 hours time to complete their journey. Such flights can land at Indian airports till 1:31 am in the small hours of Monday.

“Passengers of the last international arriving flight have now exited the airport. Operations at T3 international arrivals will remain suspended till 0531 hours of 29th March 2020,” the Delhi Airport officials said in the small hours of Monday.

Government has attributed the surge in COVID-19 cases to the huge number of international arrivals of Indian nationals stranded from across the world, particularly from COVID-19 hotspots in Europe and the US.

READ: Manipur CM to donate one-month salary to coronavirus relief fund; Assam orders lockdown

On Sunday, the government had announced a complete lockdown in 75 COVID-19-hit districts across 22 states and union territories, with state governments given the freedom to add to the list of districts after assessing the situation.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, in a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, asked to immediately suspend domestic commercial flights at all airports in the state.

Banerjee had said the government has stopped all inter-state movement, shut down road transport and Railways have also ceased operations.

“But allowing flights to still land in the state remains a threat to the prevention of coronavirus spread,” she said.

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