India’s aviation minister Mr. Hardeep Singh Puri told media on Thursday that international flights to-and-fro India will depend on the availability of the COVID-19 vaccine as that will boost the confidence of nations.
When asked if the current travel-bubble with some nations will last until March-April of next year, he said it is difficult to predict since no country has fully opened its borders.
“It depends on the availability of a vaccine as countries will feel more confident once a vaccine is there,” Mr. Puri was quoted as saying.
Since the pandemic, regular international flights between countries was stalled, and the date of resumption has since then been screeched back to prevent the spread, the lastest is until October 31st.
Air bubbles enable countries to operate international flights to-and-from to carry passangers.
“There are basically three issues to consider before resuming regular international flights. One, resuming domestic connectivity connecting bigger cities to smaller towns, which we have already done. Second, the nature of the virus on which I can’t comment and the third is international restrictions. Every country wants its people to return, but for others, there are plenty of restrictions,” the Union aviation minister said.
Addressing more details about the current civil aviation scene in India, he said it is expected to see the domestic air travel to return to the pre-COVID-19 level by Diwali to New Year.
And it is expected the domestic air travel demand will surpass the pre-COVID-19 levels by the first quarter of 2021, Mr. Puri said. More than 1.2 crore people have flew around India since domestic flights were opened in May 25th.
International flights were allowed under the nation’s Vande Bharat mission to bring back stranded Indians from around the world, and deliver vital pandemic-related supplies to other countries.
Domestic air travel was resumed in May following a two-months hiatus and has since then seen an uprise in traffic. At present domestic flights are operating at 65% of the capacity, which is expected to be allowed to operate at 75% capacity.
Coronavirus has spread alarmingly with Europe reflecting a growing number of cases in recent times. All total there are more than 36 million COVID-19 cases as per the latest Johns Hopkins data.
Deaths soared over 1.5 million with the US and India alone having more than 300,000 fatal cases in the world.