New Delhi: A day after Union Minister Hardeep Singh Puri advised airlines to open bookings only after the government takes a decision on resuming passenger flight services, Vistara and AirAsia India said on Sunday they have not received any notice from the aviation ministry on this matter.
All private Indian airlines, including Vistara and AirAsia India, are currently taking bookings on select flights from May 4, but national carrier Air India has stopped taking bookings on all flights a day after Civil Aviation Minister Puri's "advise".
"We shall await the ministry's notice in this regard. We have suspended operations and sales until May 3, following the last circular," Vistara spokesperson said.
"Once there is clarity on steps to be taken beyond that date, we will comply accordingly," the spokesperson added.
AirAsia India spokesperson told PTI that the lockdown issued by the government is till May 3 and hence flights are available for bookings May 4 onwards.
Flight bookings have been made available as passengers need to make travel and associated purchase decisions in advance. This also helps them get cheaper fares, the Air Asia India spokesperson clarified.
"We have not received any formal notification from MoCA (Ministry of Civil Aviation)/ DGCA (Directorate General of Civil Aviation) specifying any future period beyond May 3 for which airlines need to stop accepting bookings," the spokesperson stated.
The spokesperson also noted that as there is uncertainty following the coronavirus pandemic, travellers are cognizant of the possibility of the lockdown getting extended in which case they can always reschedule their flights for free.
On Saturday night, Civil Aviation Minister Puri said on Twitter the government has not taken any decision to open domestic or international flight operations so far.
"Airlines are advised to open their bookings only after a decision in this regard has been taken by the government," he said.
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.