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Return to normalcy by year-end, decision international flights resumption soon: MoCA Secretary
Making a comment on the much talked about question in the aviation and tourism industry, Secretary of the Ministry of Civil Aviation, Rajiv Bansal has said that the government will soon take a decision on resuming scheduled international commercial flights. He also expressed optimism that once it happens, the flight operations will be normalised by the end of this year.

“Scheduled international flights are likely to resume “very soon” and “by the end of this year”. 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.

India had suspended international flights on March 22, 2020, in the wake of Covid-19 pandemic. Over the last 20 months, first the evacuation flights and then repatriation flights are operational under the Vande Bharat Mission and various air bubble transport agreement signed by the government with more than 30 countries. Under the current arrangement, limited scheduled flights are operational with various restrictions in place.

Scindia shares that the Aviation Ministry is trying to reduce aviation turbine fuel (ATF) prices by asking the state governments to reduce their VAT charges.

Over the course of time, the private stakeholders including the airlines, foreign missions, tour operators and travel agents have requested the authorities to permit pre-Covid flight capacity as restrictions on the number of flights under the bubble arrangement have to limited availability, high demand resulting into skyrocketing airfares. Last week, the Union Minister for Civil Aviation Jyotiraditya Scindia mentioned that they are evaluating the process of restarting international flights, while emphasising on the need to be careful in the context of the pandemic.

Bansal, who is also the Chairman and Managing Director (CMD) of the national carrier Air India mentioned that the government is trying its best to complete the disinvestment process of the airline by end of December 2021. Talace Private Limited, a fully owned subsidiary of the Tata Sons has emerged as the winning bidder of the sale-process concluded last year. The hand-over process is currently ongoing after the government signed sale purchase agreement with Tatas. Along with Air India, Tatas will acquire low-cost carrier Air India Express and Air India’s 50 per cent stake in equal joint venture AISATS.

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