'Will try to restart international flights before Aug'

Will try to restart international flights before August: Puri

India will try to resume a good percentage of international flights as early as mid-June if the COVID-19 behaves in a predictable manner, Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said on Saturday.

In an interactive session on Facebook, Puri said the entire civil aviation sector is ready for resumption of domestic flights from Monday and is awaiting guidelines from the International Civil Aviation Organisation on starting international commercial passenger flights.

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“Why wait till August-September? If the situation eases and the virus behaves in a predictable manner, and we get used to co-exist with the virus, we are in a position to make arrangements. Why not start by June middle or June end or by July…. Nothing is cast in stone,” the minister said.

The minister was responding to a question from viewers on restarting of international commercial passenger flights, which have been suspended since March 22 to break the chain of transmission of the COVID-19.

 

“We must have a very ambitious goal. Why not start mid-June, end June or July. If not the entire civil aviation, at least we can start a good percentage of it,” Puri said.

The minister also assured on increasing the number of Vande Bharat flights to bring back Indian nationals stranded abroad. Between May 7 and 21, 23,000 Indians have returned home and about 8,000 NRIs, who are usually residents of other countries, have taken the flights out of India.

Puri said as many as 50,000 Indians stranded abroad would return to the country by the end of this month.

“I am able to meet the objective of ensuring NRI who are now living in India but are ordinarily resident abroad in countries such as in the Canada, the US, Japan, EU and Australia, to return even before international civil aviation opens up because we are now increasing the number of Vande Bharat flights,” Puri said.

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