India has extended the Covid-induced suspension on scheduled international passenger flights till September 30, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation on Sunday said.
The aviation regulator added that international scheduled flights on selected routes might be allowed on a case-to-case basis by the competent authority.
India suspended scheduled international flights on March 23, 2020, amid a spike in Covid-19 cases in the country at the start of the pandemic. However, India has been operating special international flights under its Vande Bharat Mission since May 2020. India has also agreed bilateral ‘air bubble’ arrangements with several countries since July 2020, allowing flight services to resume with these countries.
India has air bubble agreements with 25 countries such as the UK, the US, the United Arab Emirates, Bhutan, France, and Kenya. Under the arrangement, airlines can operate special international flights between the two territories.
The DGCA also said in the circular that the suspension would not affect international all-cargo operations and flights it had specifically approved.
At present, India has bilateral agreements with Bahrain, Afghanistan, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Canada, Germany, France, Japan, Iraq, Kuwait, Kenya, Nepal, the Maldives, Nigeria, the Netherlands, Qatar, Oman, Rwanda, Russia, Seychelles, Tanzania, Sri Lanka, Ukraine, the United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, the UK, and the US.
However, some countries that had ‘air bubble’ arrangements with India banned air travel to and from the country at the peak of the second wave. These countries were Australia, Canada, Bangladesh, Germany, France, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Italy, Kuwait, Iran, New Zealand, Saudi Arabia, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, and Singapore.
While some countries lifted the ban later, many others are yet to do so.
The UK recently elevated India to its amber list of countries. The elevation means travellers from India no longer have to undergo institutional quarantine upon entering the country.