Press Trust of india

After aviation minister’s ‘advice’, Air India stops bookings on all flight

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New Delhi: Air India has stopped taking bookings on all flights, said its officials, a day after Union Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri “advised” airlines to open bookings only after the government takes a decision on resuming passenger flights.

The minister’s comment came on Saturday night, hours after the national carrier stated that it has opened bookings on select domestic flights from May 4 and on select international flights from June 1.

Amid the second phase of the coronavirus-induced lockdown, Air India officials said on Sunday: “We have stopped all forward bookings now. Any passenger who has booked tickets on a flight, which has been cancelled, would be getting a credit voucher for future travel.”

On April 3, during the first phase of the lockdown, Air India had announced that it has stopped bookings on both domestic and international flights till April 30.

A notification on Air India’s website on Saturday read, “Bookings for select domestic flights for travel from May 4, 2020, and for international flights for travel from June 1, 2020, onwards are open.” The notification has been removed from the website.

Private sector airlines, however, continue to take bookings May 4 onwards.

Several passengers have complained on social media that Indian airlines are not giving refunds for flights cancelled due to the coronavirus-induced lockdown and instead issuing credit vouchers for future travel.

On April 16, the Ministry of Civil Aviation stated that travellers can ask airlines for full refunds if the bookings were done during the first phase of the lockdown for travel up to May 3.

The first phase of the lockdown imposed in the country in view of the coronavirus outbreak was from March 25 to April 14. The second phase started on April 15 and will end on May 3.

All domestic and international commercial passenger flight operations have been suspended during the lockdown period. However, cargo flights and special flights authorised by aviation regulator DGCA have been permitted during this period.

The death toll due to COVID-19 rose to 507 and the number of cases to 15,712 in the country on Sunday, according to the Union Health Ministry.

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