Domestic Flights Resume 25 May, Middle Seats Won’t Be Kept Vacant

SOPs for passenger movement are being separately issued by the Aviation Ministry, Hardeep Singh Puri said.

Updated
India
2 min read
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Domestic flight operations will recommence in a calibrated manner from 25 May, Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri tweeted.

“All airports and air carriers are being informed to be ready for operations from 25 May. SOPs for passenger movement also being separately issued by Ministry,” he tweeted.

Speaking to ANI, he said that only a small number of flights will be resumed at first.

“Initially, only a small percentage of the total number of domestic flights will be operated. Then depending on the experience we gain, we will increase the number of flights,” Puri said.

Puri said that keeping the middle seat vacant, however, will not be viable.

“It’s not viable to keep the middle seat vacant.Even if you keep middle seat vacant you’ll still have a situation where prescribed distance for social distancing isn’t followed. If you were to do it then you have to hike up airline ticket price by 33 percent,” he said.

“I think Standard Operating Procedure (SOPs) should not be made so onerous that they are difficult to be followed. We've now reached a happy balance and SOPs will be announced soon. Those will be the norms for some time,” he added.

Puri also hinted at capping prices for the tickets.

“We are looking at some basic measures that could be taken relating to capping prices of airline tickets, but those will be comfortable,” he said.

Puri will address the media at 3 pm on Thursday, 21 May to divulge details of the SOPs.

Puri on Tuesday had said that it is not only up to the Central government to decide on resumption of domestic flights, as states will also have to be ready to allow civil aviation operations.

The statement came just days after the lockdown has been extended till 31 May and the suspension on both scheduled domestic and international flights was extended till further notice.

On Sunday after the Ministry of Home Affairs' decided to extend the lockdown, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) said it will suitably inform airlines on flights resumption in due course.

In its guideline for the fourth phase of lockdown till 31 May, the MHA had said that all domestic and international air travel of passengers will be prohibited, except for domestic medical services, domestic air ambulance and for security purposes.

(With inputs from ANI and IANS.)

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