New Delhi: Giving hope to thousands of air passengers at this time of coronavirus, Union Minister Hardeep Singh Puri on Tuesday said that the bulk of pre-COVID-19 domestic air passenger traffic is likely to be back by Diwali this year. Also Read - Delhi Airport Terminal-2 to Resume Operations From October 1 With Nearly 100 Daily Flights

Giving further details, Puri said that the Centre has plans to allow more flights from Mumbai and Kolkata. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, these two airports are having restricted operations for past many months. Also Read - Domestic Flights: Fly to Darbhanga From Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru Soon at Just Rs 3,799

The Civil Aviation Minister said that the number of domestic passengers was 98,800 on August 23 and over 33 per cent of pre-Coronavirus figures have been achieved. He also added that the number of domestic passengers has been increasing at the rate of 5,000 a week. Also Read - Indian Airlines Seeking Interest-free Credit Line of at Least USD 1.5 Billion: Aviation Minister Puri

Talking about plans to operate more flights, Puri said that post Ganesh Chaturthi, the Centre is planning to open up Mumbai airport more. On the other side, the Kolkata and Bengaluru airports will also be operated with 50 per cent mark.

Right now, the Mumbai airport is operating only 100 flights per day and West Bengal government has restricted flights from six covid hotspots such as Ahmedabad, Chennai, Delhi, Mumbai, Nagpur, and Pune till August 31.

Talking about opening regular international flight services, Puri said India is negotiating with 13 countries. The country right now has air bubbles with 18 countries, including the US, the UK, Canada, Germany, and France.

To open up more international flights, Puri said that India is negotiating with 13 countries, including Australia, Japan and Singapore, to establish separate bilateral air bubble arrangements for international flight operations.

Under a bilateral air bubble pact, airlines of both the countries can operate international flights with certain restrictions.