Lockdown may not end on May 31; need time to resume flights: Uddhav Thackeray
Mumbai, May 24: Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray said on Sunday it is anticipating more coronavirus cases and needs "time to prepare" for the opening of the aviation sector. The lockdown, cannot be lifted even by May 31.
"It was wrong to impose the lockdown suddenly. It will be equally wrong to lift it in one go. It will be a double whammy for our own people," he said in a televised message.
In an online briefing, Thackeray said, "I spoke to civil aviation minister Hardeep Singh Puri today and told him that the Mumbai international airport needs more time to resume its operations."
"Till the time MIAL (Mumbai International Airport Limited) plans and fine-tunes the airport operations, the aviation ministry should initiate minimum possible domestic flights from Maharashtra from May 25th, which are purely emergent in nature like for international transfer of passengers, medical emergencies, students, and cases on compassionate grounds."
Thackeray said some 13 more international flights till be landing at the Mumbai airport by June 7.
Puri had announced resumption of domestic flight services from May 25 as part of the Centre's efforts to gradually open the air travel that was suspended nearly two months ago due to a lockdown imposed to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus.
A Maharashtra government official on Saturday said the state had not yet amended its May 19 lockdown order which allowed only certain kinds of flights.
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.
Worst-hit by the coronavirus pandemic, Maharashtra reported 47,190 Covid-19 cases - highest in the country, taking 1,577 lives while more than 13,000 coronavirus patients have recovered the infection and have been discharged from hospitals across the state.
Mumbai, Thane, Pune are the worst-hit districts in Maharashtra.