When will overseas flight operations to India be ‘fully normal’? Here's what civil aviation minister said
In a possible indication that the regular overseas commercial passenger flight operations to India are unlikely to be ‘fully normal’ in the near future, Union civil aviation minister Jyotiraditya Scindia said on Thursday that though the country was getting back to normal, the resurgence of the Covid-19 pandemic in other parts of the world, including Europe, can’t be ignored. Speaking at an event organised by the industry body CII, Scindia also said that the government was ‘evaluating the process’ to normalise international flight operations.
“Let me commit to you that we are evaluating that process. However, keep in mind what’s happening in the world, including in Russia, parts of Europe, they are going through a fourth wave that too despite the vaccines,” the civil aviation minister said, according to news agency PTI. He further urged people not to ‘erase our short-term memories so soon,’ in what was a possible reference to the devastating second wave of the viral illness, which was at its peak across the country during April and May.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader also said that there was a process to be followed, under which there has to be a dialogue with other ministries before arriving at a decision on overseas flight operations.
“I’m all for regaining our space in the civil aviation arena in the world and making a hub in India for more wide body aircraft. We will get there, but bear with me and trust me, I’m on your side. We will work together but in a safe environment,” Scindia remarked.
Regular international flights to and from India were suspended in March 2020, when the first national Covid-19 lockdown was announced; the suspension is yet to be lifted. Domestic carriers were grounded around the same time, though resumed services in May last year and, last month, were allowed to operate at full capacity.
At present, overseas flights are allowed in India as repatriation flights or can operate under special permission by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA). India also has air bubble arrangement with more than 25 countries.