Big alert: Domestic flights banned from midnight of March 24 to curb the spread of coronavirus
Earlier in the day, Mamata Banerjee, Chief Minister of West Bengal, wrote to the PM requesting that all flights to and from the state be banned.
India will stop domestic flight operations from midnight of March 24. However, there is no clarity about how long this ban will remain in place. CAPA, an aviation advisory agency, points out that while the timing of the resumption of services is entirely in the control of the government, “it will most likely be beyond 31 March”.
Airlines have been given till midnight on March 24 to plan operations to land their aircraft at their destinations before midnight Tuesday. This means that atleast 650 aircrafts registered with domestic airlines will be on the ground from midnight Tuesday. The statement adds that the ban from March 24 does not extend to cargo carrying flights.
The decision to stop domestic airline operations comes less than 48 hours after India banned all foreign airlines from arriving here. The ban on international flights is till March 29.
Commenting on the grounding of the Indian fleet, CAPA says that the severity of disruption that the Indian aviation industry is experiencing will have an impact that is felt well beyond fiscal year 2021, “unless the government is able to provide quick and meaningful support. Industry stability in the post-COVID period will also depend upon promoters of distressed airlines themselves bringing in significant funds.”
"We take this opportunity to thank all our airport employees and doctors for their commitment. Passengers are requested to get in touch with the airline concerned for updated flight info on international departing flights. #Coronavirus," the Delhi Airport tweeted.
The government's announcement came as the number of coronavirus cases rose to 433 on Monday. This initiative will strengthen India in its fight against the coronavirus. As India is on the verge of entering Stage 3, that is community transmission, of the pandemic, it is important to keep the movement of citizens to the bare minimum so that any spread of the virus can be avoided.