All Normal International Flights Banned Till May 31; Flights Only Allowed For These 27 Nations Under Air Bubble
The ban on international commercial passenger flights was extended by one month by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on Friday, until May 31, 2021.
Since March 2020, the ban has been in effect.
International Flights and Bilateral Air Bubble Agreements
The restriction will not apply to international all-cargo operations and flights specifically approved by the aviation regulator.
“In partial modification of circular dated 26-06-2020, the competent authority has further extended the validity of circular issued on the above subject regarding Scheduled International commercial passenger services to/from India till 2359 hrs 1ST of 31th May, 2021. This restriction shall not apply to international all-cargo operations and flights specifically approved by DGCA. However, international scheduled flights will be allowed on selected routes by the competent authority on case to case basis,” said DGCA circular.
Later after the Covid-19 pandemic, all scheduled international flights were limited on March 23 of last year and are still prohibited.
But various international flights are operationalized under bilateral air bubble agreements that India signed with a number of countries to allow for unrestricted passenger movement.
Air Bubble Pacts With 27 Countries
India has signed air bubble agreements with 27 countries. Special international flights will be operated by the airlines between their territories under an air bubble agreement between two countries.
India currently has a bilateral air bubble agreement with about 27 countries, which include countries such as Afghanistan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Canada, Ethiopia, France, Germany, Iraq, Japan, Kenya, Kuwait, the Maldives, Nepal, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Oman, Qatar, Rwanda, Seychelles, Tanzania, Ukraine, the UAE, the UK, Uzbekistan and the US.
Also, the pandemic’s second wave, which has seen daily infection cases reach 3.87 lakh, has forced many countries to temporarily halt international flight operations to and from India.
Countries including Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Iran, Italy, Kuwait, New Zealand, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Singapore and UAE have banned travel to and from India due to the rising number of infections in the country.
Many state governments have made it mandatory for passengers to have a negative RT-PCR report in order to fly by air, including for domestic flights. Domestic aviation is getting hampered as a result of these restrictions.