‘Airlines may return to pre-COVID levels by Jan.’

Have opened up 70% capacity: Puri

Airlines in India are likely to be permitted to operate at the pre-COVID-19 capacity levels by year-end or mid-January, from the existing 70%.

“By December 31 or soon thereafter [which] means a week or two weeks thereafter we will back to pre-Covid levels,” Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said on Monday.

Virtually addressing the Indian School of Business’s Deccan Dialogue, the Minister said he had already urged officials to consider allowing airlines to operate at 80% from the 70% the carriers are permitted now.

“Civil aviation in the country was resumed on May 25, a good two months and two days after we had completely locked down [for COVID-19] with 30,000 passengers in a day. Two or three days ago, just before Diwali, we carried 225,000 [passengers],” he said, stressing the need to adhere to the safety protocols and maintain discipline.

Noting that the economy is firing on all cylinders, he said in the coming few years the Civil Aviation will get a boost in the form of development of 100 new airports and the massive opportunity for investment available across the aviation ecosystem, from airports, airlines, ground-handling to MRO.

On the lessons learnt from the pandemic, he said one of them was how countries that are globalised ought to ensure that they do not become overly dependent on a country or region for supply of essential goods and services. Derisking and diversification of supply chain has become a unequivocal call for nations worldwide.

Mr. Puri, who is Minister of State (Independent Charge) of Housing and Urban Affairs, said “whether housing or civil aviation we are coming back to pre-Covid levels. Hopefully before too long we will be able to reposition ourselves as an economic player in the global supply chain… [emerge as] cost effective alternative destination to derisk and diversify the global supply chain.”

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