The ban on domestic flight operations across India has been extended till April 14 from March 31 as the country steps up efforts to fight COVID-19, the aviation regulator DGCA said today. International flights in and out of India were already stopped till April 15 before the 21-day pan-India shutdown was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his second address to the nation on the coronavirus pandemic last week.
“All domestic operators engaged in scheduled, non-scheduled and private aircraft operations in India shall ensure strict compliance of the order,” the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) said in a memo signed by Deputy Director General Sunil Kumar today.
The railways have already stopped operations and all inter-state movement is being monitored to allow only essential services such as groceries and medical supplies to pass through.
The aviation sector that has been struggling with high pressure on their margins is facing the pinch of the lockdown, with several airlines announcing pay cuts and other measures to reduce cost.
The lockdown was necessitated by the spread of COVID-19 across India. At least 724 people in India have been infected with coronavirus, and 17 have died. The highly infectious disease mostly spreads through surface contact and respiratory droplets, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has said.
The lockdown has disrupted supply chains of e-tailers like Flipkart, including those who sell groceries like Big Basket.
Unable to find transport, hundreds of people, especially daily wage workers and their families, have been seen walking for days with little food and water to reach their villages from the cities.
Incidents of police action on people walking hundreds of kilometres to their villages have been reported from Uttar Pradesh. While in some cases the police have apologised, others have offered meals and water to people walking homes.
Technically called the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 or SARS-CoV-2, this novel coronavirus causes the COVID-19 disease. A novel virus is one that has not been previously identified in humans.