MUMBAI: Amid the tussle between the Centre and states over resumption of domestic flights from May 25, Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh has said it’s “extremely ill-advised to reopen airports in red zone”. “Mere thermal scanning of passengers inadequate w/o swabs. Impossible to have autos/cabs/buses ply in current circumstances. Adding positive passenger will add Covid stress to red zone. #MaharashtraGovtCares,” Deshmukh tweeted. The minister said getting passengers to come from a green zone to a red one putting them at risk of exposure doesn't make sense. “Keeping a busy airport up & running with all Covid-safety measures will need huge staff presence and compound risk in the red zone.”
All scheduled commercial passenger flights have been suspended in India since March 25 when the lockdown was announced. Since the government's announcement of allowing these services in a phased manner last Thursday, all domestic carriers have commenced bookings for their flights on domestic routes from May 25. As per the May 19 order of the state government extending the coronavirus-induced lockdown till the end of the month, all domestic and international air travel, except for domestic medical services, domestic air ambulance and for security purposes as permitted by Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), will continue to remain prohibited across the state.
"We have not yet amended this lockdown order issued on May 19," said an official when asked about the resumption of passenger flights in Maharashtra. "The government of Maharashtra has communicated its views to the Mumbai International Airport Limited (MIAL) that till such time MIAL plans and fine-tunes airport operations, they should initiate minimum possible domestic flights from Maharashtra from May 25, which are purely emergent in nature like for international transfer passengers from these cities, medical emergencies, students, and cases on compassionate grounds only," said the official.
Air passengers, who booked tickets for domestic flights starting May 25, have been a harried lot as confusion prevailed on Saturday regarding various state governments' flight acceptance and quarantine norms. The confusion was triggered after several state governments announced they will not allow domestic flight operations, while others said air passengers will be quarantined.
While Union Minister for Civil Aviation Hardeep Singh Puri on Saturday said he does not understand the need to quarantine domestic air passengers if they have downloaded the government’s contract-tracing app Aarogya Setu and the status on it shows green (negative), several states have said passengers arriving will be quarantined.
Apart from Maharashtra, states such as Bengal and Tamil Nadu have also objected to the resumption of flights.