Services of all passenger trains and flights will remain suspended till May 3, officials said on Tuesday soon after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that the nationwide lockdown to combat coronavirus will be extended for another 19 days.
In a televised address, Modi said the current three-week-old lockdown, billed as the world's largest, will continue till May 3 and that the restrictions could be reviewed for certain parts of the country on April 20.
The current spell of 21-day lockdown was scheduled to end at midnight Tuesday.
Following the prime minister's announcement, the Indian Railways extended the suspension of all its passenger services till the end of the lockdown.
According to official data, a staggering 20 million people travel daily on nearly 15,000 passenger trains across the country.
The Civil Aviation Ministry too said services of all international and domestic commercial passenger flights will remain suspended till midnight of May 3. A number of airlines had taken bookings for passenger travel, hoping to operate flights from Wednesday.
On an average, around 500,000 people travel by domestic, and international flights to and from India, daily.
The Railways said the movement of goods and parcel trains will remain operational to ensure supply of essential commodities across the country.
'In continuation of the measures taken in the wake of COVID-19 lockdown, it has been decided that all passenger train services on Indian Railways, including premium trains, mail/express trains, passenger trains, suburban trains, Kolkata Metro Rail, Konkan Railway shall continue to remain cancelled till 2400 hours of May 3,' a statement from the railways said.
The railways further said that all counters for booking of rail journey tickets for reserved/unreserved travel at railway stations and outside railway station premises shall remain closed till May 3 midnight.
The railway board has issued instructions to the zones that full refunds for fares of cancelled trains should be initiated by them.
In a tweet, the civil aviation ministry said: 'All domestic and international scheduled airlines operations shall remain suspended till 11.59 pm of 3rd May 2020.'
Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said there were good reasons for the lockdown to be extended.
'We can consider lifting restrictions on both domestic and international flights thereafter. I understand the problems being faced by people who need to travel and request them to bear with us,' the minister tweeted.
The civil aviation sector has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. Earlier this month, Air Deccan became a casualty of the crisis as it announced indefinite suspension of flight operations and asked all employees to go on sabbatical without pay.
As revenues have fallen significantly due to the coronavirus crisis, IndiGo has announced a pay cut of up to 25 per cent for its senior employees and Vistara has announced a compulsory leave without pay of up to three days for its senior employees in March.
SpiceJet has stated that its employees' salaries would be reduced between 10 to 30 per cent and Air India has announced a 10 per cent cut in allowances for every employee, except cabin crew, for the coming three months.
GoAir has cut salaries of its employees, laid off its expat pilots and introduced leave without pay for employees on a rotational basis.
IndiGo said it will resume flight services from May 4 in a phased manner.
'Initially, starting with a slightly curtailed capacity, the airline will increase the operating capacity over the subsequent months, also reopening selected international flights, depending on the existing international travel guidelines,' the airline said in its press release.
SpiceJet CMD Ajay Singh said that it is the right time to bring about structural reforms in the country's aviation sector.
"Bringing aviation turbine fuel (ATF) under GST is a long pending request... Second thing we need to look at this whole structure of airports and the way the airport concessions are given," he said.
Railways set to cancel around 39 lakh tickets
Railways is set to cancel around 39 lakh tickets booked for travel between April 15 and May 3 due to extension of the nationwide lockdown and suspension of passenger trains till then in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, sources told PTI.
With the national transporter allowing tickets to be booked during the 21-day lockdown for journeys after April 14, around 39 lakh bookings were made by passengers hoping that trains will be in operation post-lockdown.
However, with the announcement of the extension of the lockdown period, railways on Tuesday not only cancelled all its passenger services till May 3 but also stopped all advance bookings.
All passengers will, however, get full refund for tickets booked for the cancelled trains as well as for those booked in advance.
Railways has also said full refunds would be automatically provided by the national transporter for its online customers, while those who have booked at the counters can take the refunds up to July 31.