India Flies Again After Two Months Of Lockdown: 10 Points

The aviation minister has indicated that international flights could begin in June.

India Flies Again After Two Months Of Lockdown: 10 Points

Passengers have been asked to reach the airport two hours before departure (File)

New Delhi: Air travel has resumed across the country, two months after the lockdown announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, bringing relief to the aviation sector that was on the brink of collapse. The details were finalized after what Aviation Minister Hardeep Puri said was "a long day of hard negotiations" with various state governments, which were not on board with the idea. With the number of coronavirus cases touching 1.3 lakh, the government announced a series of dos and don'ts that would begin with social distancing at the airport and no-contact check in. The Centre has not insisted on any quarantine either, with Mr Puri saying it would not be necessary in "short-haul" flights. Various states, however, are insisting on varying degrees of quarantine creating huge confusion among travellers. The aviation minister has indicated that international flights could begin in June.

Here are the top 10 points in this big story:

  1. Union minister Hardeep Puri tweeted: "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".

  2. Ahead of the resumption of flights, the government asked all passengers to download the Aarogya Setu application on their mobile devices and states to ensure thermal screening. Passengers have also been asked to reach the airport two hours before departure and maintain social distancing.  

  3. The pricing of air tickets have been fixed in seven bands between Rs 2,000 and Rs 18,600 for the next three months, depending on flight duration. The plan to keep the middle seat vacant -- in keeping with the idea of social distancing -- was dropped to cap the ticket prices.

  4. Several states, including BJP-ruled Assam and Uttar Pradesh, have said quarantine will be mandatory. Uttar Pradesh said people flying into the state will be put in home quarantine for 14 days unless they are staying for less than a week or if they have already cleared the coronavirus test earlier.

  5. Other states plan to have varying degrees of quarantine. Chhattisgarh will insist on 14-day institutional quarantine. Punjab, Kerala, West Bengal will have 14 days' home quarantine for all passengers. Karnataka and Assam will divide the 14-day quarantine period between home and institutional quarantine. Jammu and Kashmir and Goa will test all incoming passengers. Mizoram will have coronavirus test and 14-day quarantine for passengers.

  6. Andhra Pradesh and Bengal had sought more time before allowing passenger service. Bengal, battered by the cyclone Amphan, had asked for more time. During Wednesday's cyclone, the runway had remained flooded for hours. Two hangars had also sustained extensive damage.

  7. Maharashtra, which was among the states that sought time in view of its huge number of coronavirus cases -- the highest in the country -- said at the last minute that it would operate 25 flights from Mumbai. Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray earlier said the state would need more time to prepare for flight operations.

  8. Hours before the passenger service started, two customs officers tested positive for coronavirus at the Mumbai airport. Mumbai has 20,000 of Maharashtra's 50,000 cases of coronavirus.

  9. Aviation Minister Hardeep Puri earlier said for flyers, quarantine will be dealt with in a pragmatic manner.  "We can't have 14 days' quarantine, it is not practical... Why are we making a fuss on quarantine? Positive cases won't be boarding," Mr Puri said, while admitting that there can be asymptomatic people.

  10. On Saturday, the country registered the biggest-single day jump in the number of coronavirus cases as 6,767 new patients were reported in the last 24 hours. Theb total is now 1,31,868 cases and 3,867 deaths have been linked to the highly infectious illness.