Scheduled international flights are not allowed to operate from any Indian airport till next Sunday (March 29). The aviation ministry’s clarification came after the Delhi government said the lockdown will mean no domestic flights from IGIA.
India has barred schedule commercial international flights for a week from Sunday (March 22), in a bid to contain the spread of coronavirus. Domestic flights have also dropped significantly due to the drastic reduction in demand for travel. IndiGo, which has almost 50% domestic market share, will reduce its domestic capacity by 25% till things improve.
All airlines are now increasingly grounding their planes. Airlines have in fact sought lower parking charges for this very reason till September-October.
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Meanwhile, KLM said on Sunday that “after receiving clearance from Indian authorities, (it) has arranged an additional flight, KL869 on Sunday from Amsterdam to Delhi. This flight is en-route Delhi with Indian passengers who were scheduled to arrive (earlier). KLM is committed to do everything it can to repatriate as many travellers as possible while ensuring to abide and respect government regulations.”
This flight was bringing 120 transit Indians from US and Canada to Delhi via Amsterdam on Friday night and was asked to return as the government has restricted flying in people from corona hotspots like UK and Europe. Later, this flight was allowed to bring the stranded passengers home.
Earlier, the DGCA had told airlines — both Indian and foreign — that no schedule passenger flight will take off from any airport outside the country for any airport in India after 5.30 am (which is 0000 hours GMT) on Sunday (March 22). These flights must reach India before 1.31 am India time on Monday. After 1.32 am Monday, no incoming schedule international commercial passenger aircraft will be allowed to disembark its passengers, whether Indian or foreign, on Indian soil.
Domestic demand for air travel has also dropped sharply. “IndiGo, India’s largest airline, has reduced its domestic schedule to match market demand over the next few weeks… responding to the various travel restrictions imposed worldwide, most of our international flights are suspended and additionally, given the reduction in domestic demand, we are trimming our domestic India operations by approximately 25% for now. In this fluid situation, IndiGo will continually review operations to match capacity to demand,” IndiGo said in a statement on Friday.