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Hours after Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal urged the Centre to ban flights to and from Singapore in view of a new Covid variant, Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said the Centre is taking all precautions and keeping an eye on the situation.

Responding to Kejriwal on Twitter, Puri said, "Kejriwal ji, all international flights have been stopped since March 2020. We have no air bubble with Singapore either."

Only a few flights are being operated between the two countries under Vande Bharat Mission to bring stranded Indians back, Puri added.

"We are still keeping an eye on the situation. All precautions are being taken," the Union Aviation Minister noted.

India suspended all scheduled international passenger flights on March 23, 2020, due to the Covid-19 pandemic. However, special international passenger flights have been operating under the Vande Bharat Mission since May last year and under air bubbles formed with around 27 nations since July 2020.

57.25 lakh domestic air passengers in April, 26.8% lower than March

Meanwhile, around 57.25 lakh domestic passengers travelled by air in April, which is 26.8% lower than 78.22 lakh who travelled in March, Indian aviation regulator DGCA said today.

According to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), 78.27 lakh people travelled by air within the country in February.

The drop in domestic air traffic in April is due to the second wave of the pandemic that has badly hit India and its aviation sector.

While IndiGo carried 30.83 lakh passengers in April, a 53.9% share of the total domestic market, SpiceJet flew 7.05 lakh passengers, which is 12.3% share of the market, according to data shared by the DGCA.

Air India, GoAir, Vistara and AirAsia India carried 6.85 lakh, 5.47 lakh, 3.11 lakh and 3.55 lakh passengers, respectively in April, it showed.

The occupancy rate or load factor of the six major Indian airlines was between 52% and 70.8% in April, it stated.

"The passenger load factor in the month of April 2021 has shown decreasing trend compared to previous month due to end of vacation period," the DGCA said.

The occupancy rate at SpiceJet was 70.8% in April, the regulator noted.

The occupancy rates for IndiGo, Vistara, GoAir, Air India and AirAsia India were 58.7%, 54.6%, 65.7%, 52% and 64%, respectively, according to the DGCA.]

Kejriwal on new strain of coronavirus

Earlier today, CM Kejriwal appealed to the Centre to immediately cancel all air services with Singapore, saying the new strain of coronavirus there is said to be "very dangerous" for children.

This new strain of the virus could invade India in the form of a third wave, he wrote in a tweet.

While there is no known Singapore strain of the coronavirus or any known to have originated in the city-state, Kejriwal appeared to be referring to a media report on Monday.

The report had mentioned the threat posed to Singapore's children by the variant first detected in India.

Reacting to the media report, Dr V K Paul, member (health), NITI Aayog, on Tuesday said, "We are examining it."

Meanwhile, Delhi today reported 4,482 cases of coronavirus, the lowest single-day rise since 5 April, and 265 fatalities, while the positivity rate dipped to 6.89%.

The capital had reported 4,524 cases and 340 fatalities on Monday, while the positivity rate was 8.42%.

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