Domestic flights service to different cities will resume once the State governments express their willingness to open airports, Minister for Civil Aviation Hardeep Puri said on Tuesday.

“It is not up to the Ministry of Civil Aviation or the Centre alone to decide on resuming domestic flights. In the spirit of cooperative federalism, the government of states where these flights will take off & land should be ready to allow civil aviation operations,” Puri tweeted.

All scheduled commercial passenger flights have been suspended in India since March 25, when the Modi government imposed lockdown to curb the spread of coronavirus.
.“As far as the Ministry of Civil Aviation is concerned and as far as all the stakeholders in the civil aviation ecosystem including Airports Authority of India, (AAI), airports in different cities, air carriers, are concerned, we have been ready to resume domestic civil aviation now for the last one week or so,” the minister said taking part in a webinar.


.While the standard operating procedure for domestic flights was yet to be framed, the comment gives airlines a hint of what to expect in the days to come. Commercial flight operations remain suspended at least until May 31, and only some flights have been allowed domestically to help citizens repatriated from different countries travel from major airport hubs in Delhi, Mumbai, etc.

This is also in line with guidelines prepared by the Airports Authority of India for reopening its aerodromes across the country, which said, “flight schedule may be cleared on City Pair basis, so the origin and destination airports are open fully from lockdown situation.” Railways too were operating to and from those cities that permitted train services, until the protocol was amended on Tuesday.

The Airports Authority of India has issued guidelines for the resumption of flights in a “graded manner”. The passengers need to follow stringent social distancing norms like maintaining at least four-feet distance from the co-passengers once the operation resumes. Masks will be mandatory for all.

The civil aviation minister said airport operations are likely to open only in a graded manner with nearly 25-30% of capacity initially. A number of airlines have started accepting bookings from passengers for domestic flights from June onwards. Private carriers like IndiGo and Vistara said they were taking bookings for domestic flights. Earlier, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) had pulled up airlines for selling tickets even as the lockdown remained in force.