NEW DELHI: Airlines are free to take ticket bookings from passengers for any date after April 14, said Aviation Secretary Pradeep Singh Kharola on Thursday, suggesting that those bookings may have to be cancelled in case the 21-day lockdown is extended.
India is under lockdown from March 25 till April 14 to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, and consequently, all domestic and international commercial passenger flights have been suspended for this time period.
"The government direction is very clear that the lockdown has been announced, and the lockdown is up to April 14.
That is what has been said so far," Kharola told reporters in a press conference.
"As far as post that (April 14) is concerned, it is all up to airlines. Airlines have to judge the situation and they can take the bookings. In case the lockdown gets extended, then the same process has to be followed, and if the lockdown is not extended, then the bookings will be honoured," said the secretary.
Till now, more than 1,900 people have been infected and 50 people have died due to the novel coronavirus in India, according to the Union Home Ministry.
As far as the Civil Aviation Ministry is concerned, it is proceeding on the basis and on the understanding that the lockdown is till mid-April, said Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri at the press conference.
"Now, what do the airlines do as a part of their contingency planning and to prepare for the future, it is entirely up to the airline. There is no directive from us," the minister added.
"But as someone who is always an eternal optimist, I am hoping that from April 15, the flights can at least start -- if not everything -- then in a calibrated manner," the minister noted.