DGCA directs airlines to stop taking bookings

Amid the coronavirus-induced lockdown, the aviation regulator DGCA on Sunday directed airlines to stop taking bookings until further notice.

DGCA said there has been no direction or clearance from it allowing airlines to start ticket bookings for journeys from 4 May onwards.

“…the Airlines may note that they shall be given sufficient notice and time for restarting of operations,” the regulator said DGCA.

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Air India has stopped taking bookings on all flights, said its officials, a day after Union Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri “advised” airlines to open bookings only after the government takes a decision on resuming passenger flights.

The minister’s comment came on Saturday night, hours after the national carrier stated that it has opened bookings on select domestic flights from May 4 and on select international flights from June 1.

Amid the second phase of the coronavirus-induced lockdown, Air India officials said on Sunday: “We have stopped all forward bookings now. Any passenger who has booked tickets on a flight, which has been cancelled, would be getting a credit voucher for future travel.”

A day after Puri advised airlines to open bookings only after the government takes a decision on resuming passenger flight services, Vistara and AirAsia India said on Sunday they have not received any notice from the aviation ministry on this matter. Private Indian airlines were taking bookings on Sunday on select flights from May 4.

Union minister Prakash Javadekar made it clear on Sunday that the central government has so far not taken any decision on starting train or airline services for passengers, asserting that any discussion on the issue is futile.

Asked if the government is looking at any timeline to start passenger transport services like trains or airlines, he told PTI, “It has to start one day but which is that one day you don’t know at this moment. Discussion about it is futile because we are examining the situation every day and drawing new lessons.”

The first phase of the lockdown was from March 25 to April 14. The second phase began on April 15 and would end on May 3.

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