India suspends international flights till August 31

  • 6 days   ago
India suspends international flights till August 31

The Directorate-General of Civil Aviation has announced the suspension of international flights until the end of August except via ''transport bubbles.''

The Directorate-General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has extended the suspension of international flights to and from India until the end of August due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, with the country having signed agreements with the USA, France and Germany to allow "bubble transport" in a bid to bring back passenger traffic gradually. However, this order will not be applied to cargo flight operations approved by DGCA.

"This restriction shall not apply to international all-cargo operations and flights specifically approved by DGCA," an official statement said.

Despite the suspension of international aviation following the Covid-19 outbreak, the government announced in a statement that a total of more than 2,500 repatriation flights have been approved and conducted by foreign air carriers in order to transport stranded people to and from India. Air India and Air Indian Express have transported 2,67,436 stranded passengers under the Vande Bharat Mission, while other carriers managed to move  4,86,811 stranded passengers back to their homes between 6 May and 30 July.


India has also revealed that agreements regarding "transport bubbles" have been signed with the USA, France and Germany to send stranded citizens back to their homelands: an agreement signed with UAE came in effect between 12 July and 26 July with people moving in both directions.

Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri announced that a transport bubble agreement is to be signed with the UK soon to allow stranded citizens of both countries to travel between Delhi and London on two daily flights. India recently signed a similar agreement with Kuwait to serve the same purpose.

The Indian Central government on Friday extended the suspension on scheduled commercial international flight operations to and from India till August 31.

"The government has decided to extend the suspension on the Scheduled International Commercial Passenger Services to or from India up to 23:59 hours IST of 31st August. Specific Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) has been issued accordingly," an official statement said.

The restriction, however, will not be applicable on all-cargo flights and other flights specially approved by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).

Passenger air services were suspended on March 25 due to the nationwide lockdown to check the spread of Covid-19. Domestic flight services, however, resumed from May 25. 

"It may be noted that during the suspension period due to the Covid-19 situation in India, more than 2,500 repatriation flights by foreign carriers to uplift stranded passengers to or from India have been approved," the statement said.

"Under the 'Vande Bharat Mission', Air India and Air India Express have uplifted 2,67,436 stranded passengers while other charters have uplifted 4,86,811 stranded passengers during the period from May 6 to July 30, 2020," it added.

According to the statement, to allow gradual movement of passenger traffic during the Covid-19 situation, 'Transport Bubble' agreements have been signed with the US, France, and Germany. 

"Recently, a Transport Bubble agreement was also signed with Kuwait to uplift stranded passenger both to and from India. More similar arrangements are likely to fructify and ease passenger movements from different countries," the statement said.

On its part, the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport (CSMIA) in Mumbai facilitated the movement of 21 flights between July 22 and July 31 under the bilateral Air Bubble agreements with the US, Germany and France.

"CSMIA catered to a total of 3,059 passengers which include 1,185 from US, 660 from France and 1,214 from Germany," the airport said in a statement.

"Under this arrangement, the airport saw airlines such as Air India, Air France and Lufthansa operating on these routes. The first flight departed from Mumbai to Paris by Air France on July 22, while the first flight arrived from Frankfurt by Air India on the July 23," it added.