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Aviation Minister: ‘Will try to restart international flights before August’

TPE Correspondent

New Delhi May 23rd

Union Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri on Saturday said that there is no contradiction between domestic flights beginning from May 25 and lockdown in India being imposed till May 31 while adding that the government will try to start a good percentage of international passenger flights before August.

Speaking about the Vande Bharat Mission, the Aviation Minister said that the Centre is planning to bring back Indian citizens from Sri Lanka either by ship or flights, adding that discussions are at the advanced stage. “I am fully hopeful that before August or September, we will try to start a good percentage of international civil aviation operations, if not complete international operations,” Puri said during a Facebook live session.

“I can’t put a date on it (restarting international flights). But if somebody says can it be done by August or September, my response is why not earlier depending on what is the situation,” he said.

He also recommended that people across the country should download the Aarogya Setu App as it as an “excellent contact-tracing device”.

The Aviation Minister further said that he don’t understand the need to quarantine those passengers who have green status on the Aarogya Setu App.

“If you have taken a test and your test report is negative, following you don’t have any symptoms, so I believe there should be no need for quarantine. The Arogya Setu app is like a passport if your status on the app is green. Why should anyone want any quarantine,” he said.

His statements came days after the Airport Authority of India (AAI) issued a standard operating procedure (SOP) for airports for recommencement of domestic flights, saying the Aarogya Setu app “will not be mandatory” for children below 14 years of age.

The Centre had on Wednesday announced that domestic civil aviation operations will start from Monday (25 May 2020) in a calibrated manner, adding that the airport authorities and airlines are also being informed of the resumption to be ready for operations.

“Domestic civil aviation operations will recommence in a calibrated manner from Monday, May 25, 2020. All airports and air carriers are being informed to be ready for operations from 25th May. SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) for passenger movement are also being separately issued by the Ministry of Civil Aviation,” Puri had tweeted.

All scheduled commercial passenger flights have been suspended in India since March 25 after the government imposed a lockdown across the country to control the spread of the novel coronavirus.

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