Commercial international flights to and from India shall stay suspended till July 15, civil aviation watchdog DGCA has announced. The restriction will not apply to international cargo operations and flights specifically approved by the aviation regulator.
All passenger flights were suspended when the country went into a lockdown late in March to contain the spread of coronavirus. Domestic flights resumed on May 25.
“Scheduled international commercial passenger services to or from India shall remain suspended till 2359 hrs IST of July 15, 2020… However, international scheduled flights may be allowed on selected routes by the competent authority on a case to case basis,” said the circular by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).
Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said last week that India will take a decision on resuming international passenger flights in July if coronavirus behaves in a “predictable manner” and the entire aviation ecosystem and state governments are onboard.
“I am often asked, when can you start international civil aviation? If you leave it to me, and if the ecosystem works, and if we have the predictability in terms of behaviour of the virus, I think in the coming month we should start taking the decision. But those decisions will not be taken by the Indian civil aviation ministry. Those decisions will be taken by the governments after looking at their domestic situation,” Mr Puri said.
The aviation minister said a decision regarding resuming international travel can be taken in the coming months, even earlier, when domestic air traffic would reach 50-55 per cent of its pre-COVID-19 capacity, and states would be in the position to absorb a higher number of passengers coming in.
“In any case, it is not our call. It is a call where all the stakeholders, including the passengers and the entire ecosystem, are ready,” he added.
On Tuesday, the Ministry of Civil Aviation said it was considering allowing some international carrier flights to resume after the United States accused India of “unfair and discriminatory practices” and restricted Air India’s special repatriation flights.
Air India and other private domestic airlines have been operating unscheduled paid international repatriation flights under the Vande Bharat Mission, which was started on May 6 by the central government.