In wake of fast-spreading coronavirus cases in India, the central government has suspended all domestic commercial flights with effective from midnight 24 March. The government, however, did not clarify on the deadline of the suspension period.
No domestic commercial passenger flight would be allowed to operate in the country from March 25 onward, the Union Civil Aviation Ministry said on Monday. There is no clarity yet on the deadline of this suspension period.
However, the restrictions would not apply to cargo flights.
India, which has already banned international flights for a week from Sunday, has taken this decision to restrict travel amid the coronavirus pandemic.
"The operations of domestic schedule commercial airlines shall cease with effect from the midnight that is 23.59 hours IST (Indian Standard Time) on March 24, 2020," a Civil Aviation Ministry spokesperson said.
"Airlines have to plan operations so as to land at their destinations before 23.59 hours on March 24, 2020," the spokesperson added.
Earlier in the day, aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) had clarified on Twitter that all cargo flights -- domestic and international -- can operate as usual. It had also announced a slew of measures for airlines and airports on social distancing, which include ensuring adequate space between passengers and check-in counters and leaving one seat vacant between two passengers, among others.
On Monday, the number of confirmed cases of novel coronavirus in India has risen to 415. Globally, more than 3.35 lakh confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been reported, while over 14,500 people have died so far due to this disease.
By Chitranjan Kumar with PTI inputs