Domestic flight operations in the country are likely to resume within a week. Union Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri, in an exclusive conversation with Outlook Magazine, said that the government is planning to resume domestic flight operations before May 15.
"We are planning to start domestic flight operations even before May 15. My effort will be to try and move in the direction of starting it very soon. I can’t put a date on it because when you are planning evacuation operations, you need the co-operation of the state governments. In order to open up domestic civil aviation, I need the domestic infrastructure in place," Puri told Outlook Magazine.
He said that there will be no 'rescue' of people as the ministry would resume the commercial operations. "Once we start domestic civil aviation, it cannot be called rescue. We are beginning commercial operation, and everyone will be able to travel," he said.
Speaking about operating flights between green zones, the minister further added, "We have to take a final decision on this. If you look at the map of India, operating between green zones is easy. But if you look at all the metropolitans, they are in red zone. We can’t leave them totally also. A decision will be taken on this in the next few days."
The government has already begun flight operations to bring back Indians stranded abroad. Over 200 Indians will be traveling back to India from Sharjah later today.
"We got off to a good start and it’s just the beginning of the process. This is not an arrangement where the final details are cast in iron, as the expression goes...We will review it as we go along," the minister said.
Commercial flight operations in India have remained suspended since March 24, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the first spell of lockdown due to the outbreak of coronavirus.
Lockdown 3.0 in the country will continue till May 17.
Meanwhile, coronavirus cases in the country have notched up to 59,662, while the death toll is nearing in on 2,000.