Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri on Monday expressed confidence that air travel would reach pre-COVID levels by the end of the year or early next year.
"We opened civil aviation on May 25, a good two months and two days after we have completely locked down.....with 30,000 passengers on a day. Two days or three days ago, I think just before Diwali, we carried 225,000 and with a scale at which we are opening up in a calibrated manner, we have already opened up 70 per cent capacity," he said.
He said he has told his colleagues to look at 80 per cent. "I am confident that by the end of the year, by December 31 or soon thereafter... means a week or two weeks thereafter, we will be back to pre-COVID levels," he said.
But, reaching the pre-COVID levels requires that the existing safety protocols are strengthened further, he said. "But, that requires, in turn, that we continue to maintain the existing safety protocols, we strengthen them and we are able to adapt...," he added.
Puri was speaking through video conference at 'Deccan Dialogue' organised by the Indian School of Business (ISB) here.