After two months of lockdown, India opens its skies for domestic air travel


After two months of nationwide lockdown, India opened its skies for domestic air travel as the first flight 6E 643 DEL-PNQ (Pune) departed from the T3 terminal of Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport at 0445 hours on Monday morning.

domestic air travel

The Delhi Airport’s official Twitter handle tweeted, “Domestic flight operations at Delhi Airport have now resumed. The first flight 6E 643 DEL-PNQ (Pune) departed from T3 at 0445 hours. We wish all the flyers a safe journey.”

Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri last week had announced that the domestic air travel will start from Monday (today) in a staggered manner. The Airport Authority of India had also released Standard Operating Procedures for passengers later.

Puri tweeted on Sunday, “It has been a long day of hard negotiations with various state govts to recommence civil aviation operations in the country. Except Andhra Pradesh which will start on 26/5 & West Bengal on 28/5, domestic flights will recommence across the country from tomorrow.”

Flight services to Bengal will resume from 28 May since the state faced huge devastation by Cyclone Amphan last week. Mumbai, which has been the worst-hit Indian city by COVID-19, will see limited flights operating as ‘per approved ⅓ schedule from other airports in the state.’

“As per request of state govt, operations in Andhra Pradesh will recommence on limited scale from 26 May. For Tamil Nadu there will be max 25 arrivals in Chennai but there’s no limit on number of departures.For other airports in TN flights will operate as in other parts of country,” Puri added.

Under the new guidelines, CISF personnel will verify passengers’ identities from a distance of two yards. CISF personnel will be separated by glass walls from the travelling passengers to avoid any physical contacts. Passengers will have to download the Aarogya Setu mobile app. State governments have been asked to conduct the mandatory thermal screening of passengers. Ticket prices have been capped between Rs 2,000 and Rs 18,600.

Chhattisgarh has insisted on a 14-day institutional quarantine, while Kerala, Punjab, and West Bengal have said that they will force passengers to go for 14 days’ home quarantine. On the other hand, Karnataka and Assam will divide the 14-day quarantine period between home and institutional quarantine.

Air travel had come to a grinding halt from 25 March midnight after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a nationwide lockdown, which has been extended till 31 May. Puri has indicated that the international flights too may resume from June if COVID-19 situation improves.