Tribune News Service
New Delhi, October 8
Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri today said domestic flight operations in the country might soon be allowed at 75 per cent of the pre-Covid level. He also made it clear that foreign airlines would not be allowed at the expense of Indian flight operators.
The minister said the domestic operations would be allowed provided the passenger number remained healthy during the next 7-10 days.
On June 26, the Ministry of Civil Aviation had allowed the airlines to operate maximum 45 per cent of their pre-Covid domestic flights.
The ministry had restarted domestic passenger services on May 25 after a gap of two months. But the airlines were allowed to operate not more than 33 per cent of their pre-Covid domestic flights at that time.
“Our internal thinking is that we will watch it for another week or 10 days… If the figures (of passengers travelling) continue to be healthy, we will open domestic civil aviation to 75 per cent of the pre-Covid levels,” Puri told mediapersons during a press briefing.
Scheduled international passenger flights have remained suspended in the country since March 23 due to the pandemic. But special international flights have been operating under the Vande Bharat Mission since May and under the bilateral air bubble pacts signed with various countries since July.
On September 28, Lufthansa had to cancel its flights between India and Germany from September 30 to October 20 as the DGCA withdrew permission, saying there were restrictions on Indians who wanted to travel to that country and that puts “Indian carriers at a significant disadvantage resulting in inequitable distribution of traffic in favour of Lufthansa”.
During the press briefing, Puri said, “The issue is not about allowing foreign carriers in or not. We are all for foreign carriers operating here. Make no mistake. But I think the time has come for the message to go out loud and clear that it will not be done at the expense of the Indian carriers.”