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Decision on international flights only after other nations ease restrictions on entry: Aviation minister

Aviation minister Hardeep Singh Puri had in May said that if the virus gets under control, the international flights could resume as early as mid June.

SNS | New Delhi |

Union Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri on Sunday said that the government will take a decision on resuming commercial international flights only after other countries ease their restrictions on entry of foreign nationals and allow incoming flights.

In a tweet, Puri said: “A decision to resume regular international operations will be taken as soon as countries ease restrictions on entry of foreign nationals. Destination countries have to be ready to allow incoming flights.”

In a series of tweets, the minister also said that due to increasing demand for resumption of scheduled international flights by people who want to travel abroad due to compelling reasons, he reviewed the state of international flight operations around the world, but globally, the situation is far from normal.

He noted that most countries have less than 10 per cent international operations because they are allowing entry only to their own citizens and have placed restrictions on foreign nationals. Many are allowing inbound flights from few countries but have also placed restrictions of quarantine or isolation, Puri added.

Puri, who is overseeing the massive Vande Bharat Mission (VBM) to evacuate Indians stranded abroad, tweeted: “We have let outbound passengers on VBM flights to fly to countries which allow them entry. More than 13500 people have flown out of India.”

“@airindiain (Air India) has sold another 22000 tickets for flights to US & Canada yesterday (5-6 June). Bookings for Europe & other places will open soon,” he added.

Potentially, these many eligible people will return to India as well, Puri said, adding that the government is adding more flights to the Vande Bharat Mission.

Another 1 lakh passengers flew out of India and around 38,000 inbound Indian citizens returned on around 640 chartered flights. More such flights are being given permissions.

Further, national carrier Air India in a tweet said that Indian citizens and OCI card holders who wish to travel on evacuation flights departing from US and Canada can book their tickets through the Air India website for flights departing from these two countries on or after June 11. It also said that the applicants should be registered with the local embassy or the high commission.

While scheduled international flights remain suspended in India, the government has conducted special repatriation flights to rescue stranded Indians in other countries.

The Centre has said that it will try to start a good percentage of international passenger flights before August.

Aviation minister Hardeep Singh Puri had in May said that if the virus gets under control, the international flights could resume as early as mid June.

“Why wait till August-September? If situation eases or improves… if virus behaves in a predictable manner, and we get used to idea of being able to co-exist with it and are in a position to make arrangements, why not start by June middle or end July?”