In a silver lining for the domestic air travel industry in India during the Coronavirus pandemic situation, Union Minister Hardeep Singh Puri has said that the bulk of pre-COVID-19 domestic air passenger traffic is likely to be back by Diwali 2020 which is on November 14. The Minister of State for Civil Aviation (Independent Charge) revealed that the central government has plans to allow more flights from Mumbai and Kolkata. These two airports are having restricted operations due to pandemic situations, as per the Indian Express report. Notably, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport (BOM) in Mumbai and Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport (CCU) in Kolkata feature among the top five busiest airports in the country.
Puri said that on August 23 the number of domestic passengers was 98,800. Around 33 per cent of pre-Coronavirus figures have been achieved, Puri said adding that the number of domestic passengers has been increasing at the rate of 5,000 a week. He said that after the Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations, the government may open up Mumbai more. He was also expecting Kolkata and Bengaluru to open up and touching a 50 per cent mark. By Diwali 2020, the bulk of the civil aviation traffic will be back, the Union Minister said.
At present, the Mumbai airport is handling 100 flights per day. West Bengal government has restricted flights from Ahmedabad, Chennai, Delhi, Mumbai, Nagpur, and Pune to Kolkata airport till August 31. The Ministry of Civil Aviation has allowed airlines to operate 45 per cent of total flights which they used to operate the pre-coronavirus era. This airline’s cap was 35 per cent.
The Ministry of civil aviation has said that on August 23, total footfalls at airports stood at 1,98,426. Out of the total 98,874 were departure passengers and 99,552 were arrivals. The total movements of flights were 1,997. Out of the total 997 were departures and 1000 were arrivals.
Talking about opening full-fledged International flight services, Puri categorically said it will depend on the behaviors of the virus. India has air bubbles with 18 countries, including the US, the UK, Canada, Germany, and France. India’s ‘Vande Bharat Mission’ has brought back more than 11.70 Lakh people and flown out nearly 166 thousand since May 6, 2020, the Ministry of Civil Aviation data revealed.