Days after announcing the resumption of some domestic commercial passenger flights from May 25, Union Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri Saturday said the ministry will try to start some percentage of international passenger flights as well before August this year. “We will try to start a good percentage of international passenger flights before August,” he said.
“I can’t put a date on it (restarting international flights). But if somebody says can it be done by August or September, my response is why not earlier depending on what is the situation,” he added.
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The Centre on Wednesday announced that domestic flight services would resume from Monday in a “calibrated manner”, laying the ground for a gradual resumption of scheduled commercial flight operations that have been shut since March 25.
Speaking on the same, Puri said there’s no contradiction between the starting of flights and the extension of the fourth phase of the nationwide lockdown. “There’s no contradiction between domestic flights beginning from May 25 and lockdown in India being imposed till May 31. We will be able to bring around 50,000 citizens back through special flights during the first 25 days of Vande Bharat Mission,” he added.
He said that the passengers who have the green status on the Aarogya Setu app on their phones will not need to be quarantined once they land back.
Meanwhile, on Thursday, the Ministry of Civil Aviation said it would implement a fare cap for domestic air travel for three months citing a possible surge in airfares due to pent-up demand. It also issued standard operating procedures with specific pre-flight, in-flight and post-flight guidelines that include arriving at the airport at least two hours prior to departure time, mandatory use of face masks, clearance from Aarogya Setu app and compulsory web check-in.
The SOPs require passengers to adhere to health protocols prescribed by the destination state or Union Territory. A senior civil aviation ministry official said ideally the passengers need not undergo quarantining, but the ultimate decision will rest with the states.
Some state governments, including West Bengal and Tamil Nadu, have expressed concern on resuming flight operations during the meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and chief ministers. In addition to this, certain state governments have been apprehensive of allowing people from locations highly impacted by Covid-19 to enter their borders.
The government has made thermal screening mandatory for all passengers, and everyone is supposed to download the Aarogya Setu smartphone app, which will inform the authorities whether you are coming from a highly infected zone.
No passengers coming from a containment zone is allowed to fly. Passengers have to sign an undertaking declaring they are not coming from a containment zone, and that they have no symptoms of Covid-19. If there are multiple passengers on one PNR, one declaration is enough.
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