By Putu Deny Wijaya
India to Resume International Flights from December 15
After a coronavirus-induced suspension, India will restart scheduled foreign flights on December 15, the Aviation Ministry said on Friday. In a statement, the Civil Aviation Ministry said the issue of resuming scheduled commercial international passenger services had been looked into in cooperation with the Ministries of Home Affairs, External Affairs, and Health and Family Welfare.
“The matter of resuming scheduled commercial international passenger services to and from India has been examined in consultation with the Ministries of Home Affairs, External Affairs, and Health and Family Welfare, and it has been decided that scheduled commercial international passenger services to and from India may be resumed as early as December 15, 2021,” according to the statement.
The statement comes two days after Civil Aviation Secretary Rajiv Bansal stated that international airline operations should resume “before the end of this year.” Due to the Covid-19 epidemic, scheduled foreign flights have been stopped in India since March 23 of last year. The ban has been extended until November 30, with specific cargo flights and commercial flights covered by air-bubble agreements with the destination nations exempted.
Special international passenger flights, however, have been running since July of last year, thanks to air bubble agreements reached with some 28 nations. India had declared earlier in October that it will open its borders to properly immunized overseas travelers. Those planning to go to India on regular commercial flights would have to wait until November 15. “Foreign visitors flying into India other than chartered aircraft would be permitted to do so only with effect from November 15, on fresh Tourist Visas,” the Home Ministry said in a statement.
India has maintained a tight stance since foreign flights began last summer. Foreign airlines were mainly barred from carrying two-way repatriation flights initially, with the exception of one-off repatriations. India approved “travel bubbles” in July, allowing individual nations reciprocal flying privileges.
These “travel bubbles” did, however, come with a set of regulations. The Indian government was in charge of the total number of aircraft and prevented Indian tourists from connecting. This meant that only a certain number of point-to-point flights could be approved at any given time. While this was OK last year, when traffic increased this year, travelers began to have problems.
Due to the scarcity of choices, airline fares skyrocketed this fall. Hundreds of thousands of passengers traveled overseas, resulting in a six-fold increase in ticket costs to the United States and the United Kingdom is only a few days. Some people were obliged to adopt difficult itineraries with breaks or pay excessive ticket fees as a result of this.
Flight normalization will provide travelers with the much-needed option of connecting flights between Europe and the Middle East. It would also improve connection to East Asian countries that have had their borders blocked since last year.