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‘International flights from India to resume on Dec 15’

Our Bureau | | | Updated on: Nov 26, 2021
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Only calibrated resumption of flights for ‘at risk’ countries

India has decided to resume scheduled international flights from December 15, the Civil Aviation Ministry announced on Friday.

However, it highlighted that there will be calibrated resumption of flights from countries that are recognised ‘at risk’ by the Health Ministry.

Due to the pandemic outbreak, scheduled international flights remained suspended in India since March 23, 2020, while special passenger flights have been operational under air-bubble arrangement with about 28 countries.

“The matter of resumption of scheduled commercial international passenger services to and from India has been examined in consultation with the Ministry of Home Affairs, the Ministry of External Affairs and the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, and it has been decided that scheduled commercial international passenger services to and from India may be resumed from December 15, 2021,” said the Civil Aviation Ministry.

“Resumption of commercial international passenger services would imply reversion to bilaterally agreed capacity entitlements and termination of air-bubble arrangements,” the Ministry added.

Countries have been divided into three categories – those that are not considered to be ‘at risk’, those that are considered to be ‘at risk’, but have an air-bubble arrangement with India, and those countries that are ‘at risk’ and do not have an air-bubble arrangement with India. The Ministry said that countries that are not enlisted by Health Ministry as ‘at risk’ will be allowed to operate at “full capacity entitlements”, according to the bilateral air service agreements.

The circular added that if a country has been identified to be ‘at risk’ and has an air bubble agreement with India, then “75 per cent of pre-Covid scheduled international flight operations of Indian or foreign carrier, whichever is higher or a minimum of seven frequencies per week subject to availability of entitlements under bilateral agreements, will be permitted”.

‘At risk’ countries

In a separate circular, the Health Ministry has put all countries in Europe, including the UK, and South Africa, Brazil, Bangladesh, Botswana, China, Mauritius, New Zealand, Zimbabwe, Singapore, Hong Kong and Israel, under the ‘at risk’ category

At the same time, countries that been enlisted as ‘at risk’ by the Health Ministry and do not have an air-bubble agreement with India, then only “50 per cent of bilateral capacity entitlements or 50 per cent of pre-Covid operations of Indian or foreign carrier, whichever is higher”, will be permitted, the Civil Aviation Ministry added.

“The seats under air bubble arrangement, which have already been sold by airlines, which are more than the capacity entitlements under bilateral air service agreements available with the airlines, will be allowed to be operated till December 14, 2021,” the Civil Aviation’s circular added.

“Such airlines will restrict their operations to capacity entitlements under bilateral air service agreements available with airlines with effect from December 15, 2021,” it added.

All scheduled international flights will have to strictly adhere to the Health Ministry’s protocols for international travel issued on November 11 this year, it mentioned.

Published on November 27, 2021

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