India to resume regular international flights from March 27
India is looking to resume international flights starting March 27, the Union Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) on Tuesday. Commercial international flights will resume operations after a two-year hiatus in strict compliance with the Union Health Ministry's guidelines. The decision was taken after considering COVID-19 vaccination levels across the world in consultation with various stakeholders, the MoCA said.
- India had suspended international air travel on March 23, 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic had first taken hold in the country.
- The suspension was repeatedly extended over the past two years as India faced three waves of COVID-19 infections.
- Ever since then, India has lifted some restrictions and has allowed international travel on select routes through air bubble arrangements with 37 countries.
"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. Air bubble arrangements will also stand revoked thereafter. With this step, I am confident the sector will reach new heights!"
Thus far, international flights were operating to/from India under air bubble agreements with the following countries: Afghanistan, Australia, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Canada, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Germany, Iraq, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Maldives, Mauritius, Nepal, Netherlands, Nigeria, Oman, Qatar, Russia, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Seychelles, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, Tanzania, Ukraine, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Uzbekistan.
In November 2021, the MoCA had announced plans to resume regular international flight operations from December 15, 2021. However, at the time, the Omicron variant of coronavirus had emerged and in January, India faced its third wave of COVID-19.
COVID-19 cases have declined significantly in India since peaking in January and February. On Tuesday morning, India reported just 3,993 new COVID-19 cases, the lowest single-day spike in 662 days, along with 108 fresh fatalities. The active caseload in the country currently stands at 49,948. India has also fully vaccinated over 80 crore people against COVID-19.