Amidst ongoing speculations over the resumption of domestic flight operations in Maharashtra, the state government has finally agreed to allow limited take-offs and landings from Mumbai airport on Monday, when flying resumes after two months. Initially, 25 flights will be allowed to land and 25 more to take off from the Mumbai international airport beginning today May 25.
"Initially the state government will allow 25 take offs and 25 landings every day for domestic flights from Mumbai. This number will be increased gradually," news agency ANI quoted Maharashtra Minister Nawab Malik as saying.
"State government will issue details and guidelines in this regard soon," he added.
Earlier on Sunday, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray said that he has requested the Civil Aviation Ministry to give the state some more time to restart domestic flight services at the Mumbai airport.
"I spoke to Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri today and told him that the Mumbai international airport needs more time to resume domestic flight operations," Uddhav Thackeray had said in an online news briefing.
Earlier on Saturday, Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh tweeted that it was "extremely ill-advised to re-open airports in red zone". According to Deshmukh, mere thermal scanning of passengers was inadequate with or without swabs.
Maharashtra is the worst-affected by the coronavirus pandemic in the country with 50,231 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the state. Of this, Mumbai alone accounts for 30,542 cases and 988 deaths as of May 25, according to Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) data. Maharashtra has 14 red zones, including Mumbai and Pune.
The Civil Aviation ministry recently took the decision to reinstate flight operations from May 25, but in a calibrated manner. Subsequently, thousands of passengers had booked flights. However, later murmurs were doing the rounds that a few state governments were not happy with the aviation ministry's decision.
The suspense over the resumption of air operations in Maharashtra has clearly indicated poor coordination between the Centre and the states.
Maharashtra government On Saturday communicated to the airport operator to fine-tune its operations and also discussed minimum flight operations like, "international transfer passengers from these cities, medical emergencies, students and cases on compassionate grounds only".
An official from Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (MIAL) had told India Today that they were prepared to restart flight operations in Mumbai and all the SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) were in place. He also said that passengers will be taken care of inside the airport.
A Mumbai International Airport Ltd (MIAL) official said he was sure that the operations would resume but on a limited basis. "Bookings have been made and even the airlines are ready. This cannot be rolled back now," he had said.
By Chitranjan Kumar