About 800 fliers have tested positive for COVID-19 since domestic flights resumed in India on May 25, according to a senior government bureaucrat. A total of 2.7 million passengers have traveled by air since flights restarted. The infection rate, of 0.03 percent, is thus very low, said Usha Padhee, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Civil Aviation, at a recent aviation webinar. All efforts were taken to trace all passengers who would have faced a risk, she said.
Domestic flights reopened, running at partial capacity
The government had reopened domestic flight operations, which were suspended since the nationwide lockdown in March. The airlines were allowed to restart service in May, but only one-third of the normal summer schedule. This limit was later raised to 45%.
While the daily number of air travelers increased from the initial volume of about 20,000 a day to 60,000 now, which are nowhere near pre-COVID-19 levels. The Indian aviation industry flew an average of 3.5 lakh passengers a day in 2019. Airlines have also been operating at about 30% of their capacity, having passenger loads below the halfway mark, said Vistara’s Vinod Kannan, its Chief Commercial Officer.
Besides the fear of getting infected, Industry executives have stressed that customers have been hesitant to travel because of varied quarantine regulations at states. India has reported a total of 7.67 lakh cases, with a recovery rate of 62.1 percent.