DGCA bars airlines from booking tickets beyond May 3, 2020

Informing airlines that the announcement on restarting of flights will be made separately, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) today issued an order asking airlines to not book tickets beyond May 3, 2020.

After the government extended the lockdown period by three weeks till May 3, 2020, airlines had started booking tickets beyond that day assuming flight operations will resume once the lockdown is lifted.

“…There was no direction/clearance, which allows the airlines to start bookings for the journeys to be undertaken wef the 4th of May 2020. Further it has been noted that airlines have started booking tickets for journeys wef from 4th of May 2020. In this respect, it is brought to the notice of all concerned that no decision to commence the operation of domestic/international flights wef the 4thof May 2020 has been taken yet. In view of this, all airlines are hereby directed to refrain from booking tickets as described above,” the DGCA said in an order today.

The authority also said that airlines will be informed about restarting of flight operations separately. “Further the airlines may note that they shall be given sufficient notice and time for restarting of operations,” the order said.

The DGCA order follows an advisory tweeted by aviation minister Hardeep Singh Puri asking airlines to not take bookings beyond May 3, 2020.

While the tweet by the minister was not binding on airlines, the airlines continued with their bookings. However, it was not clear whether the order by the DGCA is binding on airlines or not.

The national carrier Air India had stopped bookings after the minister’s tweet but private carriers continued with their booking schedule.

This recent ban on bookings will ensure that passengers do not end of bookings tickets on flights beyond, which may get cancelled if the government extends the lockdown period further or decide against resuming flight operations despite lifting the lockdown.

The government, on Thursday, had also ordered airlines to refund passengers, who had booked during the dates India was under lockdown in the first phase till April 14, 2020 – the lockdown was further extended till May 3, 2020.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi put the entire nation in a state of lockdown from March 25 to curb the spread of the Coronavirus pandemic. All flights were suspended. The original lockdown period was till April 14 and airlines kept bookings open after that date, irrespective of apprehensions that the lockdown would be extended.

Source Article

Lois C. Ferrara

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