International flights: Govt evaluating process for overseas commercial passenger flight operations, says Jyotiratidya Scindia  |  Photo Credit: BCCL
New Delhi: Civil aviation minister Jyotiraditya Scindia on Thursday said the government is evaluating the process for normalising international flight operations. The Minister stated that it wants to return to normalcy while keeping in mind the coronavirus pandemic situation in certain parts of the world.
He further indicated that overseas flight operations are unlikely to be fully normal in the near term saying that people should not let down their guard. “I am all for regaining our space in the civil aviation arena in the world and making a hub in India and for more wide body aircraft. We will get there but bear with me and trust me, I am on your side. We will work together but in a safe environment,” he said.
For the unversed, scheduled international passenger flights to and from India remain suspended since March 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. Currently, India has air bubble arrangements with more than 25 countries for operating international flights.
Under an air bubble arrangement between two countries, international passenger flights can be operated by their respective carriers into each other’s territories subject to certain conditions. “We are evaluating the process,” the minister said while responding to a query on when international flight operations are likely to normalise.
Speaking at the ‘Global Economic Policy Summit 2021 Rebuilding Economies’ organised by CII, Scindia also said that his aim is to make India an aviation hub.
“Let me commit to you that we are evaluating that process. We want to return but keeping in mind what is happening in the world… today what is happening in Russia, parts of Europe, they are going through a fourth wave with vaccine. Let us not erase our short term memories so soon,” the minister said.
He further noted that a process is being followed and there has to be a dialogue with other ministries before reaching a decision on overseas flight operations. Scindia also asserted that the civil aviation ministry wants to be a constructive collaborator and not a restrictive regulator.
Regarding high ATF (Aviation Turbine Fuel) prices, The Union Minister said seven states have slashed their VAT (Value Added Tax) on the fuel and he was expecting more states to follow suit. With the current tax structure on ATF, “you cannot have a robust civil aviation sector. I am very clear on that,” he added.
Meanwhile, domestic flights have been allowed to operate with full capacity in October.