The coronavirus-induced suspension of scheduled international passenger flights has been extended till August 31, aviation regulator DGCA said on Friday. “However, international scheduled flights may be allowed on selected routes by the competent authority on a case-to-case basis,” the Directorate General of Civil Aviation added.
Scheduled international passenger services have been suspended in India since March 23, 2020, due to the coronavirus pandemic. But special international flights have been operating under the Vande Bharat Mission since May 2020 and under bilateral “air bubble” arrangements with selected countries since July 2020. The severity of the pandemic has meant that even after 17 months there is no sign of the same resuming anytime in a hurry.
India has formed air bubble pacts with around 24 countries including the US, the UK, the UAE, Kenya, Bhutan, and France. Under an air bubble pact between two countries, special international flights can be operated by their airlines between their territories.
The DGCA circular also said that the suspension does not affect the operation of international all-cargo operations and flights specifically approved by it.
During the second Covid catastrophe surge starting mid-April, about 20 countries have imposed restrictions like flight suspensions from India or stricter entry norms for travelers.