Union Minister Prakash Javadekar made it clear on Sunday that the central government had so far not taken any decision on starting train or airline services for passengers, asserting that any discussion on the issue was futile.
Asked if the government is looking at any timeline to start passenger transport services like trains or airlines, he said, “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.”
He said some airlines decided on their own to start bookings from May 4, and noted that Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri had already clarified that the government had not taken any decision in this regard.
A final decision on the issue would be taken by the government, he said, advising against any speculation over the matter.
The ongoing nationwide lockdown, which had started from March 24 midnight to combat the coronavirus pandemic, is scheduled to end on May 3.
Some airlines, including Air India, had opened bookings on select domestic routes from May 4, prompting Puri to advise them to open bookings only after the government takes a decision on starting domestic and international commercial passenger flight services.
“The Ministry of Civil Aviation clarifies that so far no decision has been taken to open domestic or international operations… Airlines are advised to open their bookings only after a decision in this regard has been taken by the government,” he had said on Saturday.
The Indian Railways had stopped booking passenger tickets since Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s address to the nation on April 14 in which he extended the lockdown to May 3.
While the government-run Air India stopped taking bookings on its flights following Puri’s statement, private airlines have continued with booking tickets, saying they have not received any notice from the Aviation Ministry in this regard.
Private airlines seek clarity
An AirAsia India spokesperson said the lockdown was till May 3 and hence, flights were available for bookings May 4 onwards.
“We shall await the ministry’s notice in this regard. We have suspended operations and sales until May 3, following the last circular,” a Vistara spokesperson said.
“Once there is clarity on steps to be taken beyond that date, we will comply accordingly,” the spokesperson added.
Air India officials, however, said they had stopped all forward bookings now, and any passenger who had booked tickets on a flight, which has been cancelled, would get a credit voucher for future travel.
(Edited by Teja Lele Desai)
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