Even though the nationwide lockdown imposed in the wake of the Wuhan Coronavirus outbreak is until April 14, an Air India official informed that advanced flight booking for both domestic and international air travel via the national carrier has been suspended until April 30. It is crucial to remember that the Cabinet Secretary had earlier informed that the Government had no plans for extending the nationwide lockdown.
Bookings now closed till 30th April from today for all domestic and international routes. We are awaiting a decision post 14th April: Air India pic.twitter.com/Cpdp5QcJOx— ANI (@ANI) April 3, 2020
On Thursday, Union Aviation Minister Hardeep Puri said, “The ministry is proceeding on the understanding that the lockdown is in place till April 15. There is no directive from the ministry about the contingency planning of airlines. But, as an eternal optimist, I am hoping that on April 15, flights can at least start, if not all, then in a calibrated manner. But that is a decision that we still need to take,” Puri had said Thursday.
A senior government official said that Air India would wait for the government’s decision until April 14 and bookings could begin on the same day if the lockdown was not extended.
Air India has been running operations to evacuate Indian citizens stuck in foreign countries struck gravely by the Wuhan Coronavirus pandemic. However, it was earlier reported that members of the flight crew are facing ostracization in their neighbourhood, Air India has said on social media. The airline has requested people to ensure that “our crew are treated with the courtesy, respect, and freedom that every citizen of this country deserves especially in light of the fact of their having undertaken flight duties to affected countries to bring back Indian citizens.”
Air India said in its press release, “It is alarming to note that in many localities, vigilante Resident Welfare Associations and neighbours have started ostracizing the crew, obstructing them from performing their duty or even calling in the police, simply because the crew travelled abroad in the course of their duty. These vigilantes have conveniently forgotten that many a spouse, parent, sibling, child and near and dear one have been brought home safe and secure from affected countries, thanks to the heroic efforts of these Air India crew.”