Indian air travel will be fully operational by end of December or early next year: Civil Aviation Minister

The Indian air travel  will return to pre-COVID levels “by December  31, or soon thereafter (week or two into January) , according to a report quoting Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri.

“We opened civil aviation on May 25—2 months and 2 days after the complete lockdown—with 30,000 passengers a day. Two days back , just before Diwali, we carried 2.25 lakh passengers,” the minister said on Monday in Hyderabad while giving the valedictory dialogue at an event  organised by  the Indian School of Business’s Deccan Dialogue.

According to the report, Puri, who is also holding the portfolio of Urban and Housing Affairs, said that as of now civil aviation is running at a 70 per cent level in a calibrated manner. “I have already told my colleagues to look at 80 per cent. I am confident that by December 31, or soon thereafter (week or two into January) we will return to pre-COVID levels.”

Stressing on the need to strengthen the existing safety protocols once civil aviation is fully operational, the minister said: “We continue to maintain and strengthen the existing safety protocols and we adapt. It requires professional people to set up those protocols and also  requires self-discipline.”

Puri also stressed on increasing the civil aviation sector’s contribution to the country’s GDP. Terming the present aviation model as distorted, Puri said: “The value of air traffic between USA and India is roughly $7 billion annually. How much do Indian carriers get of the traffic? They get mere 17 per cent. It is not that the USA carriers get the remaining 83 per cent — not going to say who gets it. I see no reason why Indian flagship or private carriers can’t earn more money flying passengers. These are distorted business models.”