Owing to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, the scheduled international passenger flights were suspended. This suspension has been now extended till 30th November 2020 as the pandemic is still at large. This has been decided by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) last Wednesday. He has also mentioned that the international scheduled flights may be allowed on selective routes on a case-to-case basis by the competent authority. This news was published by the Indian aviation regulator in a circular recently.
We all know that the international passenger flight services across all the routes throughout the world have been suspended in India since 23rd March 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. But certain special international flights under the Vande Bharat Mission have been functional since May and has been under the operation of the bilateral ‘air bubble’ arrangements since July with selected countries.
A bubble air pact has been formed by India with 18 countries around the world, namely, the UK, the USA, the UAE, Bhutan, France and Kenya. According to this air bubble pact between India and any other country, special international flights can be functional between their territories by their respective airlines. The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), circular has issued the notice that this operation of suspension won’t be affecting the daily services of all-cargo international operations and flights, under its approval. However, the scheduled domestic passenger flights have been resumed in India on the 15th of May after a gap of 2 months amidst this pandemic situation.
The Covid-19 cases have recently seen a re-surge all over Europe. Due to this, the 26-06-20 dated circular issued by Sunil Kumar, the joint director general, Directorate General of Civil Aviation, has undergone a partial modification, the competent authority has increased this circular’s validity on the subject of flight suspension i.e the Scheduled International Commercial Passenger Services. The extension has been made from India till 23:59 hours IST of 30th November 2020. A senior official has confirmed this development and a copy of the communication has been checked and finalized by the Money Control Department.
After resuming the domestic flights on 25th of May, a strict note has been taken to keep a check on the international operations. Indian Airlines have now the right to operate 2 cities in the above mentioned 18 countries under the air travel bubble arrangement. Other than this, repatriation flights continue to function under the Vande Bharat Mission and it is a surprising relief that over 20 lakh Indians have flown back home as on October 27, 2020.
On international travel, active concerns have been raised with another surge of infections in the European and US countries. This recent surge has come even as winter looms keeping the medical experts unsure about how the virus of Covid-19 will be affecting people in the cold season.
Last week, as per the aviation regulator, around 12,983 weekly domestic flights of airlines in winter has been scheduled from 25th of October till 27th March 2021. This is around 55% of the permission granted in the pre-covid times last year. It is highly worthy to note that the last year during the winter schedule, around 23,307 weekly domestic flights had been approved by the DGCA. Out of this, around 6006 weekly domestic flights were approved of IndiGo which is still now India’s largest airlines for this year’s winter schedule. SpiceJet and GoAir have got 1957 and 1203 weekly domestic flights respectively.
Meanwhile, the recent coronavirus cases recorded in India during the last 24 hrs have remained below 45,000 as the overall Covid-19 tally has went closure to the grim milestone of around 80 lakh ongoing cases.