India likely to extend temporary suspension of flights from UK: Civil Aviation Minister

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on December 29, 2020

The temporary suspension came into effect on December 22 as a new more contagious version of the coronavirus was discovered in the UK

India is likely to extend the temporary suspension of flights between India and the UK beyond December 31, said Hardeep Singh Puri, Minister of State for Civil Aviation, on Tuesday.

“We are applying our mind (on the issue of extending the temporary suspension beyond December 31). I foresee a slight extension in the temporary suspension, but it will not be a long or indefinite (suspension),” he said at a press conference.

Before the temporary suspension came into effect, over 60 flights a week carrying almost 2,500 passengers a day were operating between the two countries. The temporary suspension came into effect on December 22 as a new more contagious version of the coronavirus was discovered in the UK.

India then joined a number of other countries worldwide in banning flights from the UK.

PPP airports

Meanwhile, the Centre plans to start the process for giving six additional airports, including the Tiruchirappalli one, to the private sector through the public, private, partnership (PPP) route in the first quarter of 2021, said Arvind Singh, Chairman, Airports Authority of India said.

“The process of putting up six more airports under PPP is in the final stages,” Singh said. He added that concession agreements for three airports have already been awarded to the private sector under the PPP mode.

Pradeep Kharola, Secretary, Civil Aviation, added that Ahmedabad, Lucknow and Mengaluru have already been handed over to the private sector partner and the concession agreements to hand over the remaining three airports, including Thiruvananthapuram, are likely to be signed in January.

In response to a question on when normal international travel will resume, Puri said he was hopeful that it could happen in the first half of next year.

At the press conference, Rajiv Bansal, Chairman and Managing Director, Air India, said the airline is expected to report a cash loss of about ₹3,600 crore in 2019-2020, which is significantly lower than that in 2018-19, adding that the airline’s financials has improved every quarter.

Talking about Air India’s privatisation, Puri and Kharola maintained that multiple Expressions of Interest (EoIs) had been received, without giving any details. The Minister said those shortlisted from the EoIs will get 90 days from January 5 to put in their financial bids.

Published on December 29, 2020

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