The Centre on Sunday (August 29) extended the suspension on international commercial flights till September 30 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The latest circular released by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) states that the international cargo flights and flights approved by the regulator will continue to operate. It also states that some flights may be allowed on some routes on ‘case-to-case’ basis.
International flights have been suspended since March 23, 2020, just before the nationwide lockdown due to COVID-19 was announced. However, some special flights started operating from May 2020, under the Vande Bharat Mission, to bring Indians stranded abroad due to the lockdown.
More than 20 countries had imposed travel restrictions on flights from India when the second wave of COVID-19 was at its peak in the country. Now that the second wave is ebbing, some countries, including, France, Germany, and Qatar, are beginning to lift the restrictions.
The restrictions were eased for certain countries including USA, UK, Germany, France, and UAE, with which India had agreed to an air bubble pact, which allowed the operation of certain international flights. India has formed air bubble pacts with 25 countries as of now.
Initially, the international travel ban was supposed to be lifted on August 31. Due to the looming scare of the third wave and the surge in the Delta variant of COVID-19 in many countries, India has extended the ban.
India has reported 45,083 new COVID-19 cases and 460 deaths in the last 24 hours, taking the total number of active COVID-19 cases to over 3.6 lakh. India is seeing more than 40,000 COVID-19 cases in a day for the fourth consecutive day.