In a likely move, the government will allow domestic and international flight operations in India in a staggered manner after the 21-day lockdown is lifted on April 14 midnight, officials said on Sunday (April 5).
The aviation sector has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. On Sunday, Air Deccan became the latest casualty of the crisis as it announced an indefinite suspension of flight operations and asked all employees to go on sabbatical without pay.
“As the virus is still spreading in India, we are thinking to permit domestic and international flight operations post-April 14 in a staggered manner. Airlines are free to take bookings for any date post-April 14,” a senior Civil Aviation Ministry official said.
“However, if the lockdown is extended post-April 14, airlines will have to cancel the tickets booked for that time period,” the official noted.
All major airlines except Air India are taking domestic bookings for dates post-April 14. Air India is taking bookings for dates post-April 30 only.
As it has sent all employees on sabbatical without pay, Air Deccan is not taking any bookings and it is not clear when it would restart operations.
As revenues have fallen significantly, IndiGo has announced a pay cut of up to 25 per cent for its senior employees and Vistara has announced a compulsory leave without pay of up to three days for its senior employees in March.
SpiceJet has stated that its employees salaries would be reduced between 10 to 30 per cent and Air India has announced a 10 per cent cut in allowances for every employee, except cabin crew, for the coming three months.
GoAir has cut salaries of its employees, laid off its ex-pat pilots and introduced leave without pay for employees on a rotational basis.
India has imposed a 21-day lockdown from March 25 to curb the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. Consequently, all domestic and international commercial passenger flights have been suspended for this time period.
However, cargo flights, offshore helicopter operations, medical evacuation flights and special flights permitted by Indian aviation regulator DGCA are permitted to operate during this lockdown.
(With inputs from agencies.)