COVID-19: India extends suspension of international passenger flights till June 30

Air India flights
More delays are the only solution India’s civil aviation authorities have until the COVID-19 infection rates slow down further. Image Credit: AFP

New Delhi: The coronavirus-induced suspension of scheduled international passenger flights has been extended until June 30, aviation regulator DGCA said.

“However, international scheduled flights may be allowed on selected routes by the competent authority on a case-to-case basis,” the Directorate-General of Civil Aviation added. Scheduled international passenger services have been suspended in India since March 23, 2020 due to the pandemic.

But special international flights have been operating under the Vande Bharat Mission since May 2020, and under bilateral “air bubble” arrangements with select countries since July 2020. India has formed air bubble pacts with around 27 countries including the US, 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.

The DGCA’s Friday circular also said that the suspension does not affect international all-cargo operations and flights specifically approved by it. The decision to extend the suspension on scheduled international passenger flights comes as India battles a second wave of coronavirus, even though daily cases have seen a steady decline over the past several days.