'No intention of curtailing flight services': Hardeep Singh Puri amid fresh Covid spike
Civil aviation minister Hardeep Singh Puri said on Saturday the government is not planning to curtail flight services further amid the second wave of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19). However, plans of making all services functional from April 1 have been postponed amid a sharp rise in Covid-19 cases, Puri added.
"No intention of curtailing [flight services]. Domestic flights were halted in March 2020 and resumed on May 25. We have been further reopening them. Our intention was to open them 100 per cent with the onset of the summer schedule from April 1 since we are at 80 per cent right now. We can't open it 100 per cent now due to the second spike of Covid," he said, according to news agency ANI.
Puri said to check the second wave of infections, airport authorities have been instructed to blacklist passengers who fail to adhere to Covid-appropriate behaviour. "I have told the airport operators and airlines to passengers who do not wear masks and fail to maintain social distancing norms into a no flyers list," he said.
Commenting on the privatisation of Air India, he said the process is likely to be completed by May-end. "At a meeting on Monday, it was decided that the government will close the financial bids within 64 days," he told ANI, adding that there were multiple bidders and some have been shortlisted.
Other public sector undertakings (PSUs) like Pawan Hans disinvestment are also in process, he said. "The airline is still in debt of ₹60 thousand crore and it is liable to be sold," he added.
The civil aviation minister's statement comes in the backdrop of India registering a record 62,258 daily cases of the coronavirus disease on Saturday, taking the country’s infection tally past 11.9 million. The country's death toll went up to 161,240 with 291 fatalities.