International passenger flights to remain suspended till September 30
As many expected, India is extending the ban on international passenger flights. The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has issued a circular, confirming that scheduled commercial flight operations to and from India will remain suspended till September 30. The decision came in light of the COVID-19 situation prevailing in the country. Here's all you need to know about it.
Notice to airlines and other concerned departments
Through the circular, issued on Monday, the aviation regulator notified airlines operating to and from India as well as other concerned parties about the suspension extension. It also noted that the restrictions will not apply to all-cargo international flight operations to and from India, in addition to the flights specifically approved by the DGCA.
Air bubble flights will be continued
The DGCA also noted in the circular that "international scheduled flights may be allowed on selected routes by the competent authority on a case-to-case basis." This refers to the special international flights that have been operating under the Vande Bharat Mission and bilateral air bubble arrangements (for select categories of people) with the US, the UK, France, Germany, UAE, Qatar, and the Maldives.
Air bubbles could be created with more nations
Further, according to The Times of India, India is already in talks to create air bubbles with more countries, including Australia, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Nigeria, Bahrain, Israel, Kenya, Philippines, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Nepal, and Bhutan.
Here is the complete notice from DGCA
Ban on international commercial passenger flights to and from India extended till 30th September, barring exceptions mentioned by the government pic.twitter.com/vbvRZSTJsr— ANI (@ANI) August 31, 2020
International flights were restricted back in March
To recall, India had halted the flight operations in March as part of the nationwide lockdown to contain COVID-19. Back then, both international and domestic flights were suspended, but since May, domestic flights have been operating at a limited capacity. Reportedly, the resumption of international flights would be mulled only when domestic flights start operating at 50% of their originally-approved summer schedule.
Currently, domestic flights are running at 35% capacity
Since resuming operations on May 25, domestic flights have managed to reach an operating capacity of 35% of the summer schedule. As part of the relaxed Unlock guidelines, the operators can raise the capacity up to 45% by November, but that may change according to the COVID-19 situation in the country. Currently, India is reporting nearly 80,000 infections and 1,000 deaths every day.