Air India shall be allowed to operate non-scheduled foreign flights with middle seats booking for next 10 days, Supreme Court has ordered after hearing an urgent plea filed by Centre and Air India against Bombay High Court order to keep middle seats vacant in international flights. Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) and Air India are free to alter any norms it may consider appropriate during the pendency of the matter, said the Chief Justice of India (CJI) Sharad Arvind Bobde in Supreme Court.
However, after the 10-day period, Air India will have to operate non-scheduled (relief) flights in accordance with the interim order passed by the Bombay High Court, SC said.
The hearing in the Supreme Court took place via video conferencing, however, the court said it was not inclined to interfere in the order passed by the High Court.
The decision has come on the day when domestic flight operations resumed in the country, after almost 2 months amid lockdown situation which was imposed in order to contain the spread of virus.
Although the domestic flight operations may have resumed, several states in the country have made it mandatory for air travellers to stay in institutional quarantine period from 7-14 days which will be followed by home quarantine, as precautions to control the spread of COVID-19.
Domestic flights of a few airlines resumed from Bengaluru city on a cautious note after they were grounded for over 2 months due to Covid-19 induced extended lockdown.
"The first flight of Air Asia took off at 5.35 am to Ranchi in Jharkhand with 173 passengers and an Indigo flight from Chennai was the first to land at 7.30 am," the airport operator official informed.
Till 9.00 am, 17 flights departed to various destinations and 5 landed from other cities.
"About 60 departures and 54 arrivals are scheduled for the first day of domestic operations by different airlines from the Kempegowda international airport," the official said.
With the Karnataka government making 7-day institutional quarantine mandatory for passengers flying from the 6 most COVID-hit states, many fliers are learnt to be wary of rushing to the city, as they don't want to be 'stranded' again in a hotel or hostel booked for a week-long compulsory stay.