By Diwali, flight operations in India will return to the levels seen before the COVID-19 outbreak, Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said.
"By Diwali (in November), we will have all our 650 aircraft operated by Indian carriers (flying)," Puri told The Economic Times.
"This may sound optimistic but what else are we going to do?" Puri added.
Domestic flight operations resumed in a staggered manner after a gap of two months on May 25. International flights to and from India remain suspended.
The industry is operating at 20 percent of the capacity seen before the COVID-19 outbreak, The Economic times reported.
Frequently Asked Questions
A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.
There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.
Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.
In Puri's view, resuming economic activity is crucial since extending the lockdown could be "more devastating” than COVID-19.
"We will come out of the phase on top because we have a captive market unlike many other countries, which are aviation hubs," Puri told the publication.
Puri added that revival of the hospitality industry would depend on flight operations.
Puri also spoke about the Air India privatisation plan, stating that the airline would become a more attractive option for investors.
"I think AI divestment will become a more attractive proposition after this because they have access and routes," Puri said.The government's plan to sell its stake in Air India has been delayed, with the deadline to submit bids extended till June 30.