New Delhi: Union Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said that India may extend the suspension of passenger flights to and from the United Kingdom to check the spread of the new strain of coronavirus.
Hardeep Singh Puri told a press conference here on Tuesday (December 29) that "I foresee a slight extension of temporary suspension of India-UK flights," adding "In a day or two, we will find out if any additional steps need to be taken, or when we can start easing the current temporary suspension."
Last week, the ministry had suspended all flights between the two countries from December 23 to December 31 over the mutated variant of the virus which is more contagious.
Earlier in the day, the Union Health Ministry said six persons who returned to India from the United Kingdom have tested positive for the new strain of the virus.
The presence of the new UK variant has already been reported by Denmark, the Netherlands, Australia, Italy, Sweden, and other countries.
On the bidding process for Air India, Hardeep Singh Puri said the government has received multiple bids for Air India that will be opened on 5th January.
"Air India Divestment is a two-stage divestment process; the First stage submission of interest or EOI, which was 14th December. The scrutiny process is on to filter eligible bidders," he said, adding that "government is moving on to the second stage which is to invite of financial bids."
On Vande Bharat Mission, Puri said that 4.2 million passengers were brought back to India, Air India share is 10 lakh plus (25%).
Airports Authority of India (AAI) Chairman Arvind Singh told the press conference the government is planning to hold the next round of privatisation of airports in the first half of 2021.
The AAI Chairman said, "As far as the next round of airports' privatisation is concerned, we are at the final stages of obtaining government approvals. Once the approvals are received, I think we will start the process of bidding in the first quarter of 2021."
Earlier in September, the AAI had recommended the Centre now privatise airports at Amritsar, Varanasi, Bhubaneswar, Indore, Raipur, and Trichy.
In the first round of airports' privatisation under the Narendra Modi government, the Adani Group in February bagged contracts for six airports -- Lucknow, Ahmedabad, Jaipur, Mangaluru, Thiruvananthapuram, and Guwahati -- winning the bids by huge margins.
After signing the concession agreements for three airports -- Lucknow, Ahmedabad, and Mangaluru -- the AAI handed them over to the Adani group earlier this year.
The AAI, which works under the Ministry of Civil Aviation, owns and manages more than 100 airports across the country.
(With Agency Inputs)