No Surprise: International flight India ban extended until September 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 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.

a screenshot of a computer

This is a change in tonality and gave many people hoped that India would immediately open international flights. Not happening so soon, I say.

International Flight India Ban

Given India’s raging pandemic earlier in 2021, India has been shut down by over 20 countries, including Canada, UK, UAE, Kuwait, MaldivesSingapore, Australia, New Zealand and Oman. The USA had notified US Citizens to leave India as soon as possible.

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 September 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 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 until we get many 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 September 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. i am thinking of flying to india this year when are indian visas are open to uk for tourists you think it will be this year some time i realy need to know plz

  2. I don’t understand why countries can’t just have a strategy that allows fully vaccinated travelers to travel, particularly to reunite with family. Sounds like a human rights violation to keep families apart for such an incredibly long period of time. Why not have a strict system that permits travel while adhering to guidelines that ensure safety?

  3. I think its all a big BS
    The Indian govt has no clue on how to manage the pandemic and is just scared into thinking that the longer they keep the ban – their beloved AI can keep minting money at the expense of other airlines. Its shambolic to think that other developed countries do not see travel as a major contributor to covid but our govt does!Religious gatherings, protests, elections are all OK? but fully vaccinated travellers with negative covid tests are not allowed to travel? Nonsense

  4. Why, why is the government of India doing this? Think of the middle class people who are sitting at home without a job for 1.5 years.

  5. I have my confirmed booking from Delhi to Zurich via Lufthansa on 10th September 2021. Pls notify whether I will be able to fly ?

  6. I share your opinion about the endless extension of flights ban “until the end of the month”. I fully respect the sovereignty of the Indian government, but why can’t they communicate better by telling openly their agenda (how long travel ban and why exactly)? I have a flight ticket to Mumbai in december 2021 (it’s a free ticket and was forced to book it in order not to loose my miles), when I booked it at the beginning of this year I had no worries, but now I have lost my confidence. Now, as far as I am informed, vaccinated Indian citizens can come to my country (Switzerland) with a C type visa (tourist visa up to 90 days). Until the beginning of this year, people coming from India just had to quarantine for 10 days, because Europe feared the so called “Indian variant” (now called Delta), but now we don’t have such measures any more. Since march 2020 we never had a real overmortality taking account of the increase of the population. It’s true that European governments don’t announce a border opening date, but they also do not promise to open at the end of the month. Do the Indian government really fears that vaccinated tourists introduce an Indian variant in India ?

    • Yes but on almost all types of Visas, EXCEPT A TOURIST VISA. I have postponed travel to India each month since June, then July, then August and recently I moved my flights to October 15. With the hope that tourist visas will be available after tourist travel open September 30. I hope that it is not just wishful thinking. Maybe this month will be the time.

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