Aarogya app not must for air travel: Puri
NEW DELHI: The Centre iterated on Friday that domestic flights to all places would resume from Monday, despite resistance from Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra, and termed as “impractical” calls for quarantining domestic flyers after they disembark.
Aviation minister Hardeep Singh Puri clarified the healthy elderly wouldn’t be stopped from flying. The use of Aarogya Setu App, he said, was preferable, and not mandatory, for air travel.
Airlines started opening bookings from Thursday night after DGCA approved a schedule of 8,216 weekly domestic flights from Monday, a third of the original summer schedule of 24,643. While all airlines are taking bookings for travel from May 25, GoAir is doing so from its originally announced date of June 1. Till 5 pm on Friday, over 1 lakh tickets are learnt to have been sold, with almost 60,000 of them by market leader IndiGo alone.
“Domestic passengers are pre-cleared. Some of the anxiety which is being shown would have been there at any time. Now we have been under lockdown for 57 days and are opening after three days. Between March 25 and June 1, what’s going to change? We are going ahead with this. And if some states feel anxiety (about allowing domestic flights) and quarantine people for some days, that is not practical. We would face the same issue even if we were to start on June 1,” Puri said.
The places opposing domestic air travel from Monday are “accepting trains and the number of people coming by air is very small. I personally don’t see any problem (with everyone coming on board for domestic flights from Monday),” he added.
“There’s tremendous pent-up demand, as is visible from the number of bookings made in a few hours. We are not sending passengers from abroad. Even those coming from abroad are doing so after taking all precautions, and then states have all quarantine facilities for them. Here we are bringing in (domestic) passengers who are making declarations when they do a web check-in. They have to tick boxes about things like not coming from a containment zone or not having tested Covid-positive in the last two months. Only if they fulfil these conditions are they given boarding cards,” Puri said.
About restricting the very elderly from flying, the minister said: “The important thing is that this is an advisory applicable not just to the elderly but also to pregnant women and people with health issues. Initially only those who need to travel will travel. If you are aged and healthy and need to travel, you can travel. Similarly, the use of the Aarogya Setu App is also preferable, not mandatory, for travel. A healthy elderly person will not be stopped from travelling.”