Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Would be impractical to restart scheduled international flights right now: Ronojoy Dutta

It would be impractical to restart scheduled international flights right now and gradually increasing the number of air bubble flights with various countries is the way forward, IndiGo CEO Ronojoy Dutta said on Tuesday.

Scheduled international passenger services have been suspended in India since March 23, 2020, due to the coronavirus pandemic. However, special flights have been operating since July last year under bilateral "air bubble" arrangements between India and approximately 28 countries.

The CEO said he is "very encouraged" by India's new civil aviation minister Jyotiraditya Scindia. The Rajya Sabha MP from Madhya Pradesh was appointed Civil Aviation Minister on July 7.

"He (Scindia) is taking a leadership position in addressing the concerns of the overall industry. The partnership that is developing between the industry and the ministry is a very promising trend," Dutta told PTI in an interview.

IndiGo is currently operating around 1,150 flights daily, of which 70-75 are international ones. The rest are domestic services.

Dutta said it is not up to India to unilaterally open up scheduled international flights and the other countries have to agree.

"There are, of course, health concerns, which I won't minimise in any way. Different countries are on different points of managing COVID-19. Then all these testing issues are sort of confusing the passengers," he added.

The IndiGo CEO said he doesn't think it is practical to open up and go for scheduled international services in one big bang.

"But I think this process of let's have more and more bubble flights and increasing it slowly is a good graduated way of opening up. We did it domestically also, right? We started from 33 per cent, went to 50 and then further. So, a graduated approach is a good approach," he said.

When India resumed scheduled domestic flights on May 15 last year after a two-month lockdown, airlines were permitted to operate just 33 per cent of their pre-COVID domestic services. This cap has been gradually increased and stands at 72.5 per cent currently.

"We want more and more countries to open up (for air bubble flights). The fact that the UAE and Doha (Qatar) have opened up is good. Bangladesh just opened up, but only with a few flights," Dutta mentioned.

14/09/21 PTI/Economic Times

To Read the News in full at Source, Click the Headline


Post a Comment