In the latest update on international travel, the ban on commercial passenger flights has been extended till 31 March, as per the circular from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) released on Friday. The ban on scheduled overseas flights was expected to end on 28 February after an eleven-month gap.
Which flights to continue operation?
The flight operations of scheduled international flights were suspended since March 23, 2020, in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic in the country. Also Read: ‘Showed Utmost Respect For Farmers’ Protests, Remained Engaged In Dialogue’: India At UN HRC
“In partial modification of circular dated June 26, 2020, the competent authority has further extended the validity. Regarding scheduled international commercial passenger services to and from India till 23.59 pm IST of March 31, 2021,” the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) said in a circular.
However, it is to be noted that international scheduled flights may be allowed on select routes by the competent authority on a case-to-case basis, it said. These restrictions will not be applicable to cargo flights and flights specifically approved by DGCA, the circular added.
Even as the flights were suspended last year, special international flights have been operating under the Vande Bharat Mission since May 2020 and under bilateral “air bubble” arrangements with select countries since July.
India has implemented air bubble pacts with several countries including the US, the UK, the UAE, Kenya, Bhutan, and France, among others. Under an air bubble pact between two countries, special international flights can be operated by their airlines between their territories.