Wednesday, June 17, 2020

International flights not a near possibility yet, says Hardeep Singh Puri

New Delhi: International flights are unlikely to resume anytime soon and a decision may not be taken until domestic flight operations are close to normal again, Union aviation minister Hardeep Singh Puri said on Tuesday.

Speaking at a webinar organised by GMR titled “Reposing the faith in flying”, Puri said he was receiving several queries on resumption of international flights. He said while the Vande Bharat Mission had been immensely successful, no country in the world had opened international flight operations yet without applying restrictions.

Restarting of international flights would depend on a lot of factors, including how the virus behaves and the rules for travel by various countries. “We couldn’t find a single country allowing access without any conditions. Even the US said since universities are closed, students holding a particular type of visa shouldn’t come. We are currently handling close to 70,000 passengers daily in domestic operations. Once we reach close to 70% of the utilisation capacity, maybe then we can think about opening our borders for international travel,” said Puri.

“Bilateral discussions need to be held before international travel can be decided. It is also not fair to set a timeline to it. We need to move towards international travel systematically without inviting a backlash,” said Puri, adding that flying was still one of the safest forms of transport, simply due to the number of precautions being taken.

17/06/20 Pankhuri Yadav/Times of India
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