In March 2020, it became apparent that international flights in India will not operate anytime soon. Since then, Air India has been operating repatriation flights, and the Government of India has stitched up Air Bubbles with various countries. Non-stop flights are only permitted to these countries at the moment.
A new order was passed by the Government of India a couple of months ago as a part of their plan to open up the lockdown. The new order notifies that international air travel opening up will be decided by the Ministry of Civil Aviation in consultation with India’s Ministry of Home Affairs.
This is a change in tonality and gave many people hoped that international flights would be immediately opened. Not happening so soon, I say. The world is closed at the moment, and while there is some conversation amongst Singapore – Hong Kong for a travel corridor, Australia – NZ for a corridor (which open and shut), and now some noises being made about Europe opening up for Americans, most of the world might operate locked down this year.
Given the raging pandemic in India itself over the past month or so, India has been shut down by over 20 countries, including Canada, UK, UAE, Kuwait, Maldives, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand and Oman. The USA has notified US Citizens to leave India as soon as possible.
At the moment, India has ‘Air Bubble’ Agreements with 27 nations and certain other Vande Bharat flights. I gather this to clarify to the other airlines operating in India about how long they should not be planning operations to India. The really bad news is, the decision is postponed, and there is no final timeline for opening up Commercial international aviation, and it could go on longer.
The DGCA has now put up a notification further extending the ban till May 2021. The Air Bubble flights and Vande Bharat flights are excluded from this notification.
I have been continuously bemused at this notification coming out every month end like clockwork, which shows the lack of planning and foresight, or the humility to accept the situation as it is on the ground for now. India is now in the second wave, and many states are already talking of a third wave. So I don’t see we will ride out of this and open up to international travel anytime soon till we get a large part of our people vaccinated. That means a good 5-6 months before things change. Why not just pass an order for six months so that airlines which cannot operate in India in the period move on and use their resources better in other countries.
India has once again extended its air travel ban by a month rather than by a longer timeframe. This means regular commercial air travel is off limits till May 31, 2021. On the other hand, many countries have decided they don’t want to have anyone travel from India because of the rising cases in this country.
What do you make of this International Flight India ban?
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