Headlines May 25, 2020
Centre’s move to reopen air travel opposed by some states
One day before domestic flights were to resume across India, there was confusion about the rules and readiness in states. Maharashtra, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, which have India’s busiest airports, have said they are against the Centre’s plan to restart passenger flights two months after a shutdown triggered by the coronavirus pandemic.
The Maharashtra government said the state is allowing only special flights and is not open to accepting people coming in. “It’s extremely ill-advised to reopen airports in red zone”, said Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh on Twitter.
Tamil Nadu, with the second-highest number of cases, too has raised similar concerns, requesting the Civil Aviation Ministry to delay the plans till 31 May.
The West Bengal government has cited the devastation unleashed by Cyclone Amphan to request the flights to Kolkata be held off till at least 30 May. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has asked the Centre said she will write to the centre to send flights to the far smaller Bagdogra airport in North Bengal till then.
While the powers of resuming air travel lie with the centre, states still get a say in accepting passengers. Questions also remain about transport from the airports. In places like Mumbai, where a ban on public transit and taxis is still in force, passengers may face problems in reaching their homes from the airport.
Maharashtra today said it is anticipating more coronavirus cases and needs time to prepare for the opening of the aviation sector. The lockdown, cannot be lifted even by 31 May said Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray.
I spoke to the Aviation minister (Hardeep Singh Puri). I understand the need for opening up air travel, but we need more time to prepare. – Uddhav Thackeray, Maharashtra Chief Minister
Meanwhile, passenger airlines IndiGo, SpiceJet, AirAsia India and Vistara have started taking bookings for flights starting Monday but budget carrier GoAir said it was awaiting clarification on rules for resuming services.
“GoAir awaits clarity on the readiness of the respective states and their airports with regard to acceptance of flights, or the conditions applicable to passengers entering the respective states,” said GoAir. “Without clarity on these conditions, GoAir does not wish to inconvenience its passengers by putting on sale flights immediately post May 25 which they may book, that will not be permitted to operate… On receiving clarity GoAir will open its site for bookings post May 25 up to May 31 as and when and where appropriate,” the company said in a statement.
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