The Civil Aviation Ministry on Friday said that the commercial international flights to and from India will be resumed from December 15. The decision was taken after consultation with the Ministry of Home Affair, Ministry of External Affairs and the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
It was since March 23 last year that India suspended scheduled international flights due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, special international passenger flights have been operating since July last year under air bubble arrangements formed with approximately 28 countries.
In an order, the Civil Aviation Ministry state, "The matter of resumption of scheduled commercial international passenger services to and from India has been examined in consultation with the Ministry of Home Affairs, the Ministry of External Affairs and the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and it has been decided that scheduled commercial international passenger services to and from India may be resumed from December 15, 2021."
Earlier, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan had raised concern over the B.1.1.529 variant of the novel coronavirus, detected recently by scientists in South Africa.
In a letter to the states and the Union Territories, Rajesh Bhushan wrote, "This variant is reported to have a significantly high number of mutations, and thus, has serious public health implications for the country, in view of recently relaxed visa restrictions and opening up of international travel."
Confirmed cases of the new variant have been reported from Botswana, South Africa, and Hong Kong.
In his letter to all states and UTs, the Union Health Secretary said that all international travellers entering India from "at-risk" countries must be subjected to rigorous screening and testing.