New Delhi: India once again extended the suspension on its international passenger flights until midnight of August 31, 2021, as per the circular issued by aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on July 30.
The restriction doesn’t apply to international all-cargo operations and flights specifically approved by DGCA.
All scheduled international flights to and from India remain banned from March 23 last year in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. The restrictions on international commercial flights were supposed to end on July 31, 2021.
The decision comes amid the threat of a looming third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic and the emergence of the Delta variant of the virus in several countries.
The DGCA, in its latest circular, said the ban shall remain in place till 2359 hrs Indian Standard Time (IST) of August 31, 2021. However, it shall not apply to cargo flights and those approved by the regulatory body.
“This restriction shall not apply to international all-cargo operations and flights specifically approved by DGCA. However. International scheduled flights may be allowed on select routes by the competent authority on a case to case basis” the circular noted.
— DGCA (@DGCAIndia) July 30, 2021
Despite the broader restrictions on international travel, certain flights were allowed to operate subsequently to repatriate stranded citizens or eligible cases.
India’s Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) signed bilateral air bubble agreements with over 28 countries for the movement of eligible citizens in the wake of Covid restrictions. India signed mutual pacts with Afghanistan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Canada, Ethiopia, France, Germany, Iraq, Japan, Kenya, Kuwait, Maldives, Nepal, Netherlands, Nigeria, Oman, Qatar, Russia, Rwanda, Seychelles, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States of America and Uzbekistan.
Air bubble pacts are signed by countries to mutually allow special international flights to ferry passengers between their territories. However, owing to the severity of the second wave which officially killed 3.87 lakh Indians, several countries such as the UK, US, UAE and Canada temporarily suspended flight operations to and from India.
Even for domestic air travel, many state governments have made it compulsory for passengers to have a negative RT-PCR report in order to be eligible for air travel. Due to such restrictions, domestic aviation has been severely affected.