Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri on Saturday said in the wake of pandemic domestic private carriers have been offered to operate 750 repatriation flights in third and fourth phases of Vande Bharat Mission: Aviation Minister.
Air India has planned 300 flights under phase-3, phase-4 of Vande Bharat Mission, he said at a press briefing.
"Close to 2,75,000 Indians, who were stranded in foreign countries, have been brought back to the country in flights and ships during the lockdown," the minister said.
About domestic flight operations, Puri said India is not able to carry out 33% capacity of its operations yet and that maximum daily traffic seen so far was 72,000 passengers.
Puri said 33% capacity will be reached when daily passenger traffic reaches 100,000.
"Will mull over international flights once domestic air traffic reaches 50-55% capacity," Puri said. He further said border acceptance, entry restrictions, quarantine conditions are factors to be considered in international flights.
Entry into US, UK, Brazil, UAE, Singapore is conditional and some countries are allowing entry to only their citizens, said Puri.
"Any suggestion that international traffic has opened up and we are the only one not to open up needs a reality check. The exact time when we will resume international flight depends on when the other countries will be open to receive flights," said Puri.
"In absence of a decision on resumption of international civil aviation, which will depend on other countries opening up, we are left with no option but to continue what I call evacuation and repatriation flights under managed and controlled conditions," Puri further said.
The minister said he expects Indian aviation to resume pre-virus levels anywhere between Diwali and end of the year. He also said that he is confident, and optimistic about Air India divestment more than ever.
"If international operations have to start, both ends have to be ready and there has to be traffic. There is a significant amount of traffic between India and North American continent. We may think of opening flights on a case-to-case basis," said Civil Aviation Secretary Pradeep Singh Kharola.
Upper and lower limits on airfares may be extended beyond 24 August depending on how Covid-19 situation pans out, said Kharola.
Almost all passengers are getting their boarding passes at home. Entire boarding process has been made contact-free and process of baggage drop has been contactless," Kharola further said.