- IndiGo closed all its flight bookings until May 31, shortly after the DGCA on Sunday barred all airlines from making reservations.
IndiGo closed all its flight bookings until May 31, shortly after the Civil Aviation Directorate-General (DGCA) on Sunday barred all airlines from making reservations before a final decision is announced on lifting or easing restrictions on resuming air travel. “Those concerned are told that no decision has been made to commence flights on May 4. All airlines are directed to refrain from reserving tickets, “claimed the DGCA order.
A formal ban came after a tweet by Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri on forwarding bookings from the aviation regulator. Since the minister’s tweet, it was only government-owned Air India that closed bookings, although private airline executives said it was merely an “advisory” and not a “binding” order.
Union Minister Prakash Javadekar made it clear on Sunday that, so far, the central government has not taken any decision on starting train or airline services for passengers, saying that any debate on the matter is futile.
According to Ambit Capital, no other Indian carrier has the liquidity needed to survive a more than one-month lockdown except for market leader IndiGo. The work did not take into account any financial assistance from the government.
The regulator also explained in its order that airlines must be given ample time before rebooting operations so they can make reservations for certain flights.
“It was one major problem that airlines raised that booking closure can not happen if there is not enough time for open sale. We’ve been tackling this problem, “said a DGCA official.
There has been no direction/clearance that enables airlines to launch travel bookings on May 4, 2020. It has also been noted that from May 4, 2020, airlines have begun to book tickets for travel. In this regard, it is informed to all concerned that no decision has yet been made to commence the service of domestic/international flights on the 4th of May 2020. In light of this, all airlines are directed hereby to refrain from booking said DGCA in an order today.
Airline executives claim that minimum 15-day advance notice should be given by industry standards to allow them to effectively put their inventory on sale. Government officials said the airlines’ opening of reservations was unreasonable as carriers did not refund money on flights canceled due to the lockdown and then move it to a credit container.
The government also directed airlines on Thursday to reimburse passengers who booked India during the first step lockdown dates until April 14, 2020 – the lockdown was extended further until May 3, 2020.