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Scheduled international flights will not commence from December 15

The clampdown by the Indian government comes less than a week after the announcement of the resumption of international flights from the middle of this month
Representational image.
Representational image.
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Our Special Correspondent   |   New Delhi   |   Published 02.12.21, 02:37 AM

Scheduled international flights will not commence from December 15 because of fears over the Omicron variant of the coronavirus. The clampdown by the Indian government comes less than a week after the announcement of the resumption of international flights from the middle of this month.

“In  view of the evolving global scenario with the emergence of new variants of concern, the situation is being watched closely in consultation with all stakeholders and an appropriate decision indicating the effective date of resumption of scheduled commercial international passenger services will be notified in due course,” the Directorate General of Civil Aviation said.

India suspended international flights from March 23, 2020. The ban was periodically extended every month till  November 30 before the government on  November 26 announced its plans to resume the scheduled international flight services.

Prior to 26 November, international flights operated between India and other countries under bilateral air bubble agreements. The country has air bubble agreements with as many as 30 countries — from Afghanistan and Bangladesh to Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Singapore, the UAE, UK and US.

International flights will continue under air bubble agreements till further notification, a senior DGCA official said on the condition of anonymity.

Prashant Pitti — co-founder, EaseMyTrip, said “the first and second waves had a devastating impact on the travel industry, and we will continue to operate following the norms presented by the government to safeguard everyone against another wave of Covid.”

“We need to be vigilant and careful, but we should not be overreacting and avoid creating panic in the market. We are hopeful to see normalcy in international travel as soon as the situation is safer,” he said.

In a written reply to the Rajya Sabha, civil aviation minister Jyotiraditya Scindia had said the decision to resume the flights from December 15 was taken after recognising the increased vaccination coverage across the globe, changing nature of the pandemic and considering the health protocols, which have been put in place for international arrivals.

“However, in view of the evolving global scenario with the emergence of new variants of concern, the situation is being closely monitored and reviewed in consultation with other ministries, with regard to taking any further decision on the issue,” Scindia said.

International airports across the country have made preparations to implement the stricter Covid-19 guidelines, to be effective from midnight for international passengers amid rising concerns of infections caused by the new Covid-19 variant Omicron.



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