Maharashtra, which has been unwilling to reopen its airports for passenger flights, made a U-turn today, deciding to allow 25 flights to and from Mumbai tomorrow. The fresh decision was announced by state minister Nawab Malik barely a couple of hours after Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray indicated that the state was not ready for such a move yet. Maharashtra has the maximum number of coronavirus cases in the country — 50,231 out of the total cases reported so far.
“I have just spoken to the Chief Secretary. After discussing the issue with all agencies, it has been decided that 25 flights will operate from Mumbai airport tomorrow. This number will increase slowly,” Maharashtra cabinet minister Nawab Malik told NDTV today.
He also criticised the Central government, saying, “The Narendra Modi government makes announcement after announcement, without discussing the issue with the state government”.
This afternoon, in an address to the people of the state, Uddhav Thackeray had said that he has spoken to aviation minister Hardeep Sigh Puri and the state needs “more time to prepare” for passenger flights.
The Chief Minister’s Office had also tweeted, saying only emergency flights will operate for now. The Chief Minister also said he wants the Mumbai airport to fine tune its operations and come up with a plan.
Pointing to the huge number of coronavirus cases in his state, Mr Thackeray had said al the airports in the big cities — Mumbai, Nagpur, Pune — were located in red zones, meaning areas that have the maximum number of coronavirus patients.
Mr Thackeray said the next 15 days will be crucial and that the state might have to extend the lockdown beyond May 31 — the current deadline set by the government.