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Govt says all airlines must stop flight bookings until further orders

Days after Air India opened bookings, the govt has come out strongly against the move and asked all airlines to hold bookings until further notice

  • In a previous order, the DGCA had extended the suspension of both domestic and international passenger flight services to May 3

  • In an order released later, the DGCA has clarified that no clearance has been given to airlines to restart operations

New Delhi: Just days after Air India posted a notification on its website, announcing the opening of flight bookings from May 3 onwards for select domestic routes and from June 1 for international destinations, the government has come out strongly against the move and asked all airlines to hold bookings until further notice. Union Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said on Monday, “I want to once again say that flight restrictions that are in place as a result of India’s fight against COVID19 will be lifted once we are confident that spread of the virus has been controlled & it poses no danger to our country & people.”

DGCA’s previous order on flight bookings

In a previous order dated April 14, the DGCA (Directorate General of Civil Aviation) had extended the suspension of both domestic and international passenger flight services to May 3 as India extended the lockdown to contain the spread of Coronavirus pandemic. Clarifying that the order did not mean that clearance had been granted to start flight bookings from May 4, the DGCA released another notification on April 20.

It said, “In these Circulars, there was no direction/clearance, which allows the airlines to start ticket bookings for the journeys to be undertaken wef the 4th of May, 2020. Further it has been noted that Airlines have started booking tickets for journeys wef the 4th of May, 2020. In this respect, it is brought to the notice of all concerned that no decision to commence the operation of domestic/international flights wef the 4th of May, 2020 has been taken yet.”

Since some airlines did not heed our advisory & opened bookings & started collecting money from flyers, a directive was issued to them on 19th April restraining them from doing so.

They were also informed that they will be given sufficient notice & time to commence bookings.

— Hardeep Singh Puri (@HardeepSPuri) April 20, 2020

‘Sufficient notice and time will be given to airlines for restarting operations’

The notification added, “In view of this, all Airlines are hereby directed to refrain from booking tickets as described above. Further the Airlines may note that they shall be given sufficient notice and time for restarting of operations.”