India domestic air travel to resume May 25 after virus shutdown

New Delhi (AFP) –


Domestic air travel will resume in India on May 25 after a two-month shutdown imposed to stop the spread of coronavirus, the aviation minister said Wednesday, a further easing of lockdown restrictions.

The government halted all domestic flights -- which ferried 144 million passengers as well as cargo across the vast country last year -- on March 25, days after suspending international flights.

"All airports and air carriers are being informed to be ready for operations from 25th May," Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said on Twitter.

No indication was given when international travel would resume.

Some inter-state Indian trains -- on a network which normally carries over 20 million passengers a day -- resumed a week ago.

The announcement comes as the country of 1.3 billion people on Wednesday reported its biggest daily jump in coronavirus infections, with 5,611 new cases recorded in 24 hours.

It took the total to 106,750, with the financial capital Mumbai the worst-hit city, according to government figures.

More than 3,300 people have died -- though unofficial estimates are higher -- and Mumbai accounts for almost a quarter of fatalities.

Other major cities such as New Delhi and Ahmedabad are also badly affected.

Experts predict that epidemic will worsen in India's major cities over the next month and infections are only expected to peak in June-July.

Despite the crisis in cities, the Indian government has insisted it is keeping the spread under control in the world's second-most populous nation.