Covid-19: India told airlines to stop selling tickets, but they wouldn't

Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri reiterated that no commercial flights will be allowed to operate until the spread of the coronavirus has been controlled and that the lifting of restrictions will only be considered later.
India ordered airlines this week to stop selling tickets. Hardly any listened.

 
Four of the country’s top six airlines, which together control 80 per cent of the local market, are selling domestic flight tickets for as soon as the third week of May, searches on their websites showed. That’s despite the government saying no decision has been made on allowing flights after the end of the nationwide lockdown on May 3, which means airlines should refrain from selling tickets until authorities give them the go ahead.

 
Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri reiterated that no commercial flights will be allowed to operate until the spread of the coronavirus has been controlled and that the lifting of restrictions will only be considered later.

Market leader IndiGo is selling tickets from June 1, as is Vistara, the local affiliate of Singapore Airlines, searches showed. SpiceJet, the nation’s second-biggest airline, and Go Airlines India, which has furloughed 90 per cent of its staff, are selling tickets from May 16. Tickets weren’t available on the websites of state-run Air India and AirAsia India, the local partner of Malaysia’s AirAsia Group Bhd.

 
“We are working on that. Hopefully will find ways to resolve soon,” Arun Kumar, the head of Directorate General of Civil Aviation, said in a text message when asked about the sales.

Vistara declined to comment. Representatives at IndiGo, SpiceJet and GoAir didn’t immediately respond to requests for comments.

 
InterGlobe’s shares slid 5 per cent on Wednesday and SpiceJet fell 3.5 per cent. The benchmark Sensex index advanced 2.4 per cent. InterGlobe is down 28 per cent this year and SpiceJet has slumped over 60 per cent.

 
Airlines around the world are using ticket sales to generate cash flow as the pandemic brings travel to a standstill, drying up revenue sources. Flybe Group, Europe’s biggest regional airline, and Virgin Australia Holdings, have already collapsed after running out of cash. Reports also said Air Mauritius has been sent into voluntary administration.

 


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