Mumbai: Amid rising coronavirus cases, the Maharashtra government on Saturday conveyed to the Centre that there will be no resumption of domestic flights in Mumbai from May 25.
As per the May 19 order of the state government extending the coronavirus induced lockdown to May 31, 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.
"Till such time Mumbai International Airport Ltd (MIAL) plans and fine-tunes airport operations, I am directed to convey to you to 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 Saurabh Vijay, Nodal Officer (Air Movement) of the state government in his communication to Cabinet Secretary Rajeev Gauba.
Vijay further said, "Considering domestic air operations are starting amidst lockdown restrictions, you would appreciate Mumbai, Pune and many cities in Maharashtra are in red zone where maximum restrictions including on movement of persons and transport both public and private are in existence."
The nodal officer stated it was not clear from the e-mail whether MIAL was worked out the requirement of staff including Ground staff-technical and non-technical, their availability, health conditions/check-up for their fitness level to resume work at airport, daily commute. It was also not clear from which parts of their respective cities, they will commute and whether those parts fall in containment zones which have total movement restrictions.
"You must be aware there can be no to/fro movement from such zones. It is not clear whether Airlines will check if domestic arrivals in the state are not from containment zones, least they get stuck up on arrival," said Vijay.
Centre has communicated that 27,500 passengers are expected to commute daily from May 25, but besides this load there will be a large number of airport and airline staff. "Their commuting will be a big challenge as public transport and private taxis are off and to start normally at such short notice without proper planning will disrupt lockdown restrictions and passengers will be put to severe inconvenience, besides disrupting state machinery’s fight against the epidemic," he noted.
The state government urged the Centre to plan daily operations in detail and furnish information to the state government on these above points making specific requests. "While making requests, please bear in mind that local authorities and resources are very much strained due to existing COVID 19 situation. State Government will provide you all possible assistance for smooth start of these operations in a phased manner," said Vijay in his letter.
The government’s move is important as the progressive cases of coronavirus pandemic on Saturday surged to a record 47,190 of which 28,817 are in Mumbai alone. Of the total 1,577 deaths, 949 are from Mumbai.