India extends ban on scheduled international passenger flights till end-January

20 Dec 2021


Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on Thursday extended the ban on international commercial passenger flights by one month, ie, till 31 January 2022.

"In partial modification of circular dated 26-11-2021, the competent authority has decided to extend the suspension of scheduled international commercial passenger services to/from India till 23:59 hrs IST of 31st January, 2022," the fresh order reads.
However, this restriction will not apply to international all-cargo operations and flights specifically approved by the aviation regulator.
The regular international flights were supposed to start from 15 December, but keeping in view the spread of Omicron variant of the SARS-CoV2 virus, the government has decided to hold the plan.
India restricted all scheduled international flights on 23 March last year in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic and continues the restriction. However, various international flights were operationalised under bilateral air bubble agreements that India signed with several nations for the unhindered movement of passengers.  
India has formed air bubble pacts with 27 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. 
On the domestic front, air passenger traffic rose marginally in the week ended 27 November amid a revival in travel sentiment during the festival season.
First detected in southern Africa last month, Omicron is known to have spread to over 57 countries and the World Health Organisation (WHO) expects the number to continue growing.
India also removed Singapore from its list of "at-risk" nations, although travellers arriving from there need to take additional measures on arrival, including post-arrival testing for Covid-19 especially the new Omicron variant.
The current list of "at-risk" countries for Covid-19 Omicron variant includes the United Kingdom, other countries in Europe, South Africa, Brazil, Botswana, China, Ghana, Mauritius, New Zealand, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Hong Kong and Israel.

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