Two years later, regular international flights to resume from March 27

After a two-year hiatus, India would resume regular international flights from March 27, the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) said on Tuesday. India had suspended the scheduled international flights since March 23, 2020, due to COVID pandemic. However, special international flights have been operating between India and 37 countries since July 2020 under air-bubble arrangements. 

“After deliberation with stakeholders and keeping in view the decline in the COVID-19 caseload, we have decided to resume international travel from March 27 onwards,” Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia said, adding that “with this step, I am confident the sector will reach new heights”. 

Air-bubble arrangements would also stand revoked thereafter, he said. 

In an air-bubble arrangement formed between two nations, carriers of each country are allowed to operate a limited number of international flights to other’s territory with specific restrictions. 

According to the Union Health Ministry, India on Tuesday reported 3,993 fresh Coronavirus infections – the lowest in 662 days. In a statement, the MoCA said that international operations from March 27 would be subject to strict adherence to Union Health Ministry guidelines that were issued on February 10. 

“After having recognised the increased vaccination coverage across the globe and in consultation with stakeholders, the Government of India has decided to resume scheduled commercial international passenger services to and from India from March 27, 2022, i.e. start of summer schedule 2022,” it said. 

The suspension of scheduled commercial international passenger services to and from India thus stood extended only up to 23:59 hours (Indian standard time) on March 26, 2022, and air-bubble arrangements would accordingly be extended to that extent only, the MoCA said. 

Welcoming the government’s decision, IndiGo CEO Ronojoy Dutta said: “This step will provide impetus to the economic recovery for the (aviation) sector and the nation, with borders opening for tourists.” 

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