Surprise: International flight India ban extended until November 30, 2021

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 few months ago as a part of their plan to open up the lockdown. The new order notified that international air travel opening up will be decided by the Ministry of Civil Aviation in consultation with India’s Ministry of Home Affairs.

a screenshot of a computer

This is a change in tonality and gave many people hoped that India would immediately open international flights. That did not happen, unfortunately. In October 2021, India also announced that it will start issuing Tourist Visas again. But…

International Flight India Ban

Currently, 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 how long they should not be planning operations in India. The terrible 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 November 2021. The Air Bubble flights and Vande Bharat flights are excluded from this notification.

a close-up of a document

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 has put behind the second wave already, and now we are seeing a respectable vaccination programme ongoing with over a billion doses already given to people in India. So… This beats me. Unless the air bubbles are the way of the future and devoiding people in coming to India or going out of India the opportunity to use carriers outside of India for one-stop flights is being stripped away from them.


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 November 30, 2021. On the other hand, many countries have now started to open up to vaccinated Indian travellers, but we don’t want their travellers coming in anytime soon. Foxes me.

What do you make of this International Flight India ban? 

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About Ajay

Ajay Awtaney is the Founder and Editor of Live From A Lounge (LFAL), a pioneering digital platform renowned for publishing news and views about aviation, hotels, passenger experience, loyalty programs, travel trends and frequent travel tips for the Global Indian. He is considered the Indian authority on business travel, luxury travel, frequent flyer miles, loyalty credit cards and travel for Indians around the globe. Ajay is a frequent contributor and commentator on the media as well, including ET Now, BBC, CNBC TV18, NDTV, Conde Nast Traveller and many other outlets.

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  1. With air bubble arrangements, Govt has also reduced flying rights of best airlines such as emirates, qatar, Luftansa etc. This move is like rubbing salt on unhealed wound. The reduced flight options from African countries deprived very own Indian citizen of flying with normal international rates. The ticket rates are skyrocketed with very fewer flight options. Who is going to understand ordeal and suffering of Indian citizens flying from African and middle eastern side of world. Govt is simply choosing to ignore.

  2. DGCA taking decision based on “loading factor”? Shouldn’t they leave the financial viability with airlines ? On one of the international airline website, I saw ” subject to discussions with Indian authorities” against India bound flights whereas flights to countries such as Vietnam , Philippines or Sri Lanka have been definitively scheduled or not scheduled i.e. clear decision. Competent authority ?

  3. I was worked in Singapore. Now I got entry approval to enter Singapore on December 15 th. But now I tried to book flight there is no flights on that day… can you advise me is there any flights to travel Singapore directly ???

  4. What is the difference between Air Bubble flight and Vande Bharat flight?

    Is it that Air India flights operated under Air Bubble are termed as Vande Bharat flights??

    • You are correct. Vande Bharat flights refer to international Air India flights, which are still categorized as being done to ‘rescue stranded Indians.’ While the air bubble flights include those flights as well as an allowance for a reciprocal number of flights from the other country’s airlines, with heavy official restrictions on who can travel on those flights, in an attempt to push people to direct flights, preferably on Air India.

  5. In a sense, according to some political analysts, the global superstitious terror of Corona has been providential to the BJP regime : it rescued it from the near-civil war that was spreading during the winter of 2019-2020 (terrorized and battered citizens stopped protesting) ; it allowed it to boast of the illusion of “saving lives” through his mind-boggling and destructive policy of endless lockdown (in fact, the situation improved as soon as the lockdown ended in the fall) ; it allowed him to make believe in the effectiveness of the flight ban to fight the worst epidemic peak (while the flight ban lasted for a year and the «variant» was of Indian origin); finally, it allowed him to realize his dream of a pure India, rid of toxic foreign tourists.
    See you soon, end of November, for the new compulsive extension of the destruction of the tourist industry.
    I am full of compassion for my beloved India.

  6. What is wrong with this BJP government, most of the strict countries like Australia also lifted the travel ban. And government taking the credit by saying 90% already vaccinated here in India. Opposition is not strong to question the government

  7. None of it makes any sense to me. I feel for all my friends in industries driven by foreign tourism. As I said earlier I am beginning to wonder if they really do want to keep foreigners out !

  8. Hi i m planning 7 days honeymoon in first week of December 2021 to mauritius. Is air mauritius travelling from India?

  9. How is such a lack of transparency possible in a democratic state ? They announce their decisions brutally, without any explanation or justification, without any press conference, in contradiction with their previous announcements. They make millions of people suffer without any understandable reason, and nobody seems to care about it.

  10. We have booked our flight to san francisco for 10th Nov 2021 on United Airlines. We have multiple visa for 10 years and going as tourists. We are senior citizens. Will we be able to go to USA?

  11. We are senior citizens , me and my wife , have booked air tickets to Raleigh N C , USA in American Airlines on 16-11-2021 to meet our daughter. Will we be able to go to USA ? We have been given the two Covishield doses and are Covid -19 Negative. Kindly guide me .

    • @S P Sharma, as long as American is operating the flight and you are following the new protocols to travel to USA (testing etc), you should be able to travel.

  12. Crony capitalism, run by democratic elected representatives, and absolutely uneducated class running the country….when the world is opening up, we are closing down quite an abnormal decision.

  13. Hi I think there is no necessary to ban the commercial flight because scine all the country already open the air buddle

  14. This extension given for international air travel is based on what considerations, looks like there are other considerations apart from pandemic.
    I hope it is not to favor certain elements /Airlines etc

    I wish our country is transparent about re-opening.

  15. My Indian aunt having valid US visa has book tickets of British Airlines from Delhi, India to Seatle, US for 11 November 2021.

    Will she able to travel to USA?

  16. I have a question. My family lives in the US and I am trying to get an e-visa for my elderly Mom as she is a US citizen but was born in Indian. My Dad never renounced his Indian citizenship and is a citizen. They say with the e-visa you can only stay in India for 30 days and the e visa form asks you for your date of arrival. So if on the Visa form you say December 15th, 2021, does that mean you only have till January 15th. Or is the visa based on when you arrive in the India say January 1 st and then you have until January 30th. Thank you in advance and I hope this is not a dumb question.

    • I agree it is really confusing. I had a five year paper visa but now that has been suspended (it will be a jolly expensive visa as I have only been able to use it once since issue) and some websites say e-visas are not applicable for people from the UK yet the Embassy told me to get an e-visa or another paper visa at another £300+. And like you, I realised it is for 30 days only. You may find your visa will be for January 13th as there are 31 days in December, so if you land on 15th – 15th to 31st is 17 days then 1-13th is 13 days, that’s your 30 days. It will be from the time you touch down until the time you take off.

  17. Is this ban will continue for life no longer flights will come to India or go out of India now covid vaccination is done all over world so why this ban is not lifted by our India aviation government in other countries ban is lifted i think so this will be ban for life every month goes on just clear until when this ban will go on

    • That’s true. Most of the countries have opened their borders. They don’t even inform prior. It’s directly in the end of the month. It’s stupid!!

  18. Is this ban applicable to fly from India to US in United Airlines as our relatives have booked tickets in Nov

  19. I am beginning to think – as do some in the tourist industry in India itself that India doesn’t want tourists any more. Don’t they realise any flights can bring in the virus just because they are business people or have OCI cars they won’t ? It is crippling the tourist industry in India. Oh well.

  20. So sad. I was planning to stay one month in Goa in december-january. But now, with this compulsive extension of flight ban, I’ve lost all hope. Of course I am ready to respect every justified and understandable decision of the Indian government. But no matter how hard I try, I can’t understand. India experienced the worst epidemic peak when international flights had already been banned for a year. So the flight ban was useless, and even more useless now with vaccinated tourists.

      • I am Swiss. Until now I did not discover if India has bubble flights with Switzerland. I shall try to discover it before I cancel all my hotels.

      • No he can’t. Tourists are excluded from all the 27 existing air bubble agreements, only allowing Indian citizens, OCIs, and non tourist visa holders, among other restrictions. The extension is especially perplexing because India said they would allow individual tourists to enter starting November 15, but now none of them have any way to enter.

          • By then hopefully the air bubbles will be removed but I have no hope until the summer season starting next April. Ajay said he could go through the air bubbles which wouldn’t work either now or later, as tourists are not allowed in them. I thought they were holding out until air India was sold, now I don’t know what the justification is.

      • Air bubble flight prices are almost 7 times higher than normal commercial flights.
        Wondering why India opens tourist visas and not international flights? How are the ministers thinking?

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