- Aviation industry worst hit in global lockdown
- Recommendation made to ease lockdown for aviation sector
- As of now, only cargo flights, special flights operating
Clampdown may soon be removed from the crucial aviation sector, sources said, with the matter being discussed in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's meeting with the Chief Ministers yesterday. Passenger air traffic - domestic and international - was halted even before PM Modi announced the 21-day countrywide "curfew-like" lockdown on the evening of March 14. As of now, only cargo flights and special flights are operating.
Sources have now said even though the lockdown is likely to be extended for another two weeks, a recommendation has been made to ease it from the aviation sector.
When passenger operations do resume, airports as well as airlines will be under severe restrictions to ensure there is no transmission of coronavirus. Social distancing has to be followed on the airport premises and in flights, which is expected to hugely push up ticket prices.
Along with security checks, passengers would also be checked for fever and those running a temperature will not be allowed into the airport.
The aviation industry has been the worst hit in the global lockdown over the coronavirus pandemic.
Fresh data from the International Air Transport Association showed that air passenger demand nosedived 14.1 per cent globally last month compared to February 2019. "This was the steepest decline in traffic since 9/11," global aviation association IATA said in a statement.
In India, airlines have grounded fleets, slashed salaries of employees or sent them on mandatory sabbatical. Cargo flights, offshore helicopter operations, medical evacuation flights and special flights, however, have been permitted by Indian aviation regulator DGCA.
The discussion on revival of passenger flights comes as the government is planning relaxations in certain sectors to ensure the survival of the economy.
Underscoring the issue, PM Modi yesterday said, "In my first address I had said, 'Jaan hai to jahaan hai (If there is life, the world will exist)'. We must now look at Jaan bhi, jahaan bhi (life and the world)".
After a meeting with state Chief Ministers yesterday, the Prime Minister had indicated that that relaxations will be allowed in the infrastructure sector, where lockdown hit the livelihood of thousands of migrant workers. The agri-sector - crucial ahead of the harvest season - is also expected to get relief too.
The home ministry is also expected come out with a list of sectors where relaxations are likely to be allowed. This will include food processing, pharmaceuticals, industries and construction, but the workers will need to follow strict social distancing.