NEW DELHI (The Statesman/ANN) — In an unprecedented measure to check the spread of COVID-19 coronavirus disease, operations of domestic scheduled commercial airlines shall cease with effect from Wednesday, the Government has announced amid a rise in the number of Coronavirus cases in the country.
Airlines have to plan operations so as to land at their destination before 11: 59 pm on March 24, the Government said.
The restrictions, however, shall not apply to cargo flights.
Domestic schedule commercial airlines shall cease operations from the mid night 23.59 IST hours on 24/3/2020.
— PIB India (@PIB_India) March 23, 2020
The announcement comes hours after Union Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said the Government is seriously considering grounding domestic air travel to break the chain of contagions.
To maintain international commercial links, Centre has, however, kept the freighter operations free from any restrictions.
According to the aviation regulator, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), there are no restrictions imposed on domestic and foreign air operators for carrying out cargo operations.
Meanwhile, all international passenger flights have already been prohibited to land in India from Sunday till a week’s time to contain the spread of COVID-19.
Yesterday, the Centre had countered Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal when he said no flights would be allowed in or out of the capital.
The Directorate General of Civil Aviation had put out a clarification saying there would be no change in domestic flight operations.
Earlier in the day, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi requesting him to stop flights to the state.
So far, India has reported 415 cases of Coronavirus with seven deaths. Worldwide, the disease has claimed more than 14,500 lives and some 3,36,000 people are infected.