- Tamil Nadu has asked the centre to defer flights until May 31
- It has citied virus cases, lack of public transport in its apeal
- Tamil Nadu is the second most affected state after Maharashtra
Tamil Nadu has asked the central government not to restart flights in the state until May 31 on account of a spurt in coronavirus cases.
Flights are to resume from Monday, but Tamil Nadu has asked the civil aviation ministry to defer the move because of rising COVID-19 cases in Chennai.
The government has said flights will initially operate from metros, including Chennai, and will be increased gradually.
Tamil Nadu said besides the virus worries, Chennai also does not have enough public transport because of the lockdown.
"We are yet to hear from the civil aviation ministry," a senior Officer told NDTV.
On whether the state can allow other airports in Tamil Nadu to function, if not Chennai, the officer said: "No, because a bulk of passengers would be Chennai-bound and we have yet to make transport arrangements to bring them to Chennai."
Officials say Chennai airport has nevertheless been putting in place anti-virus measures such as touch-free and contact-less security and boarding and multiple thermal screenings.
Tamil Nadu also requires to quarantine those arriving from other cities, though Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri yesterday downplayed the need for quarantining after short flights.
Chennai did receive special flights earlier this month. Two Air India Express flights from Dubai brought home 356 Indians stranded overseas and a few passengers tested positive for the virus.
Tamil Nadu has the second highest number of coronavirus cases, close to 14,000, next only to Maharashtra that has over 40,000 cases.
95 have died in Tamil Nadu. Chennai has 8795 cases and has seen a rise in the past few weeks because of a vegetable market that has emerged as a super-spreader besides clusters in urban slums. Over 2,600 people with links to Koyambedu, a wholesale market, have tested positive for COVID-19 so far.