Ban on International Flights Extended till August 31

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India on Friday extended the ban on international commercial passenger flights till August 31. But the restriction shall not apply to international cargo operations and flights specifically approved by the aviation regulator, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).

According to a statement issued by the DGCA, “The government has decided to extend the suspension on the Scheduled International Commercial Passenger Services to/from India up to 2359 hours IST of 31st August.”

Earlier this month, in the wake of a surge in Covid-19 cases across the country, the civil aviation ministry had extended the ban on international flights till July 31. Prior to that, the earlier order had said the ban would be in place till July 15. The ban on international flights was extended even as capacity on domestic routes has been hiked to 45% from the earlier 33%.

The country has also signed a travel bubble agreement with Kuwait to evacuate stranded passengers both to and from India. Further similar arrangements are likely to be put in place by the aviation ministry to ease passenger movements from different countries. On July 9, India had announced an air bubble with the United Arab Emirates that would be in place from July 12 to 26.

A bilateral air bubble refers to a travel corridor between two countries that wish to reopen their borders and re-establish connections with each other. International flights to and from India have been suspended since March 23 as the Covid-19 pandemic spread across the world to nearly 185 countries. Limited domestic flights have since resumed on certain sectors from May 25.

During the suspension of international flights due to the Covid-19 outbreak in India and other countries, more than 2,500 repatriation flights by foreign carriers to evacuate stranded nationals to and from India were approved by the government.

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