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'Int'l flight services likely to normalise by Dec-end'

Intl flight services likely to normalise by Dec-end

New Delhi: International passenger flight services are expected to be normalised "very soon" and possibly by the end of this year, Civil Aviation Secretary Rajiv Bansal said on Wednesday.

Scheduled international passenger flights to and from India remain suspended since March 2020 amid the pandemic. The suspension has been extended till November 30.

Normalisation of international flights is expected "very soon" and by the end of this year, Bansal said here. Currently, India has air bubble arrangements with more than 25 countries for operating international flights.

Under an air bubble arrangement between two countries, international passenger flights can be operated by their respective carriers into each other's territories subject to certain conditions.

Last week, Civil Aviation minister Jyotiraditya Scindia said the government was evaluating the process for normalising international operations and asserted that it wants to return to normalcy while keeping in mind the Coronavirus pandemic situation in certain parts of the world.

"I am all for regaining our space in the civil aviation arena in the world and making a hub in India and for more wide body aircraft. We will get there but bear with me and trust me, I am on your side. We will work together but in a safe environment," he had said.

The Civil Aviation ministry has asked airport operators to look at outsourcing non-core security works at aerodromes to private agencies, according to a senior official.

Besides, the ministry has sought additional deployment of 3,000 CISF (Central Industrial Security Force) personnel at airports.

These moves also come against the backdrop of domestic air traffic almost touching pre-Covid levels and an anticipated rise in the number of air passengers in the coming months.

Bansal on Wednesday said the sector will rebound and "we will grow faster than earlier".

CISF has been asked to augment its capacity, and airport operators have been asked to have more screening machines, among other measures, he added.

According to Bansal, airport operators have also been told to look at giving non-core security activities to private security agencies. This is also expected to help in reducing the financial burden on airport operators.

Checking people before entering the airport, screening, and perimeter security are among the core activities at an airport. Security at ground handling and cargo areas, among other places, is broadly considered non-core activities.

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