Air travel will return to pre-COVID levels by end of December, says Civil Aviation Minister
"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," said Puri.
HYDERABAD: Air travel will return to pre-COVID levels by the end of December or by the beginning of 2021, Minister of Civil Aviation Hardeep Singh Puri said during the Indian School of Business's Deccan Dialogue event on Monday.
Puri who was giving the valedictory dialogue at the event said, "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."
Puri who also holds 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," he said.
Puri also said that when civil aviation is fully operational, there will be a need to strengthen the existing safety protocols. "That requires that 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," he said.
The Union minister also said stressed on increasing the aviation sector's contribution to the GDP of the country. Terming the present aviation model as distorted, Puri said, "The value of air traffic between USA and India is roughly $7 bn 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."