The Civil Aviation Ministry on Friday said the scheduled international flights to and from India will be resumed from 15 December. However, the Central Government has barred 14 countries in light of the new Covid-19 strain as well as rising infection rates in these nations.
Flights to and from countries that are considered “at risk” can operate at 75 per cent of the schedule if there is an air-bubble agreement in place with India, and at 50 per cent if there isn’t. Scheduled international passenger flights to and from India were suspended in March 2020 due to Covid-19 pandemic.
“The matter has been reviewed and the competent authority has decided to resume the scheduled commercial international passenger services to/from India with effect from 15 December 2021,” the order by office of MoCA said. Flights to nations not classified as “at-risk” can resume to full capacity entitlement according to bilateral air service agreements.
Countries under the “at-risk” category will need to follow additional measures on arrival in India, including post-arrival testing. Countries “at risk” include the United Kingdom, France, the Netherlands, South Africa, Brazil, Bangladesh, Botswana, China, Mauritius, New Zealand, Zimbabwe, Singapore, Hong Kong and Israel. India has air-bubble pacts with 28 countries, including the US, the UK, the UAE and France.
This arrangement will, however, come to an end from December 14. “Resumption of scheduled commercial international passenger services with effect from 15 December, 2021 would imply reversion to bilaterally agreed capacity entitlements and termination of air-bubble arrangements. However, due to the prevailing Covid-19 situation, the capacity entitlements shall be as per the category of countries based on enlistment of countries as “at-risk” from time to time by the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (MoHFW),” the document said.
Flights to these “at-risk” countries can resume at 75 per cent of the full capacity entitlements under bilateral air-service agreements if there is an air-bubble agreement with that country. At least seven flights a week would be allowed. In case of “at-risk” countries with whom India did not have an air bubble agreement, only 50 per cent of pre-Covid operations of Indian or foreign carriers, or 50 per cent of bilateral capacity entitlements will be allowed. Special passenger flights have been operating since July last year under air bubble arrangements with 31 countries. Under an air bubble agreement, airlines of both countries can operate special flights with certain restrictions.