Earlier this week, the DGCA had ordered the suspension of domestic flights up to the month-end. However, the government announced a 21-day lockdown — ending April 14 — in India to contain the spread of coronavirus. Accordingly, the previously-announced suspension periods for domestic and international schedule passenger flights, charter flights and private aircraft movement is now till April 14-15 midnight.
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Only all-cargo, medical evacuation and special DGCA-approved flights, apart from off-shore helicopter operations, will be allowed in the civilian space.
The DGCA said its earlier order for suspension of schedule passenger, charter and private aircraft flight “is hereby extended till 2359 hours (India time) on April 14, 2020. All domestic operators engaged in scheduled, non-scheduled and private aircraft operations in India shall ensure strict compliance of the order.”
To be sure, authorities are hoping the spread of coronavirus gets under control during the 21-day lockdown.
“We hope all flights, and normal life, can resume and that the 21-day lockdown is able to contain the spread of the virus. We are constantly reviewing the situation and taking all required steps in real time,” said an official, when asked if the flight suspension could be extended beyond April 15.
In a tweet, Air India said: “In view of the 21 day nationwide lockdown, operation of all Air India schedule international and domestic flights stand cancelled till 2359 (hours) IST of April 14, 2020. Please stand by for updates.”
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This winter schedule, in force till last Sunday of March, was to see 3,330 domestic and 580 international flights daily. Of these, Indian and foreign carriers were to operate 3,577 (domestic and international) and 333 (only international) flights, respectively. Now all the 650 plus aircraft of Indian carriers are parked at airports across the country, except for the handful operating special DGCA-approved flights.
All airports will remain operational during the schedule passenger flight suspension period also to enable medical charters, evacuation flight and in case any aircraft overflying the country needs to land here in an emergency situation.