Airports Authority issues new guidelines as international flights resume tomorrow
India will resume international flights from March 27 at midnight after a two-year-long break. Hence, the Airport Authority of India (AAI) introduced new COVID-19 guidelines on Saturday for international operations. Under the new guidelines, crew members will not be required to wear PPE kits. However, wearing face masks at the airport and within the flight will remain mandatory. Check out the new guidelines further.
Why does this story matter?
Travelers flying internationally will be required to adhere to the latest guidelines. India had suspended international air travel on March 23, 2020, as COVID-19 cases started rising in the country. India has since repeatedly extended the suspension, gradually rolling back restrictions. International travel was allowed on select routes through air bubble arrangements with 37 countries. However, regular international travel remained suspended until now.
What are the new COVID guidelines? What has changed?
The requirement of maintaining three seats vacant on international flights has been removed under the revised COVID-19 guidelines, the AAI said on Twitter. Further, the requirement for crew members to wear full PPE kits has also been removed, it said. Airport security personnel will again start pat-down searches, which had been discontinued earlier due to the COVID-19 guideline regarding physical distancing.
Guidelines updated due to vaccinations, declining cases: AAI
"In consideration of the decreasing cases of the COVID19 virus and a successful vaccination drive, @MoCA_GoI (Ministry of Civil Aviation) has decided to resume international scheduled air operations from March 27th, 2022. It has revised its existing COVID guidelines concerned with international operations," AAI tweeted.
Air bubble arrangements to expire
The temporary air bubble arrangements introduced during COVID-19 will not be applicable after Saturday. Under these arrangements, India was operating international flights with 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 UAE, the UK, the US, and Uzbekistan.
Regular international flights were supposed to resume from December
India had initially planned to resume regular international flight operations from December 15, 2021. However, the plan was postponed with the emergence of the Omicron coronavirus variant, which caused the third wave of COVID-19 in India. Earlier this month, Union Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia announced the resumption of regular international flights saying that the aviation sector will now "reach new heights."
India reported under 2K COVID-19 cases today
COVID-19 cases have been on the decline in India. On Saturday morning, India reported just 1,938 new COVID-19 cases along with 67 fresh fatalities. The active caseload in the country currently stands at 22,427. India has also fully vaccinated over 82 crore people against COVID-19, according to Co-WIN. Over 98 crore others have received at least one dose of the vaccine.