The resumption of international flights from India depends on other countries’ agreeing to the proposition, Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said on 20 June, although he was hopeful domestic flights, which had resumed operations on 25 May, will ply to full capacity by the year-end. “Any suggestion that international air traffic has opened up and we are the only ones not to open up needs a reality check. The exact time when we will resume international flights depends on other countries to be open to receive flights,” he said.
On 22 March, India suspended international passenger flights, trying to contain the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID).
The minister said that international flights operations depended on whether airspaces would be open and other countries would accept the crossing of airspaces. “Many countries decided that they were not going to allow nationals from other countries except their own. We also went with the same position,” Puri said.
Giving details the minister said that entry was conditional in the US, UK, France, China, UAE and Singapore, adding, “You cannot have normal civil aviation operations under such conditions.”
Puri said India was left with no option but to continue “evacuation and repatriation” flights under managed and controlled conditions — in the absence of a decision on resumption of international flights. He was referring to the government’s initiative in bringing back Indians struck abroad due to the COVID pandemic. The Centre had launched the Vande Bharat Mission for this purpose on 6 May.
The minister informed the press that so far the government had brought home 2,75,000 Indians: 1,09,000 through the union government’s Vande Bharat Mission by flights of state-run Air India and 1,43,000 expatriates through private carriers.
The civil aviation minister said that the government had approved of private domestic airlines operating 750 international flights to repatriate people stranded amid the coronavirus pandemic during Phases 3 and 4 of the mission. The government was constantly trying to expand both domestic and Vande Bharat flights, the minister said. He promised to ramp up the domestic flight operations.
“At present, we have allowed only 33% flights to operate and flights are not operating in full capacity even now. We will open more routes where there is more demand. We are ready to take it to up to even 40-45% capacity,” Puri added.