Canada Not Ready To Relax India Flight Ban

Canada is not planning to relax its India travel ban any time soon. The Canadian government is likely to announce another one-month extension on the direct flight ban, forcing travelers to take complicated routes instead. Let’s find out more about this decision.

Air Canada 787-9
Direct flights between India and Canada remain suspended since late April, leaving thousands stranded. Photo: Air Canada

Delayed

According to the Hindustan Times, Canada will announce another one-month extension to the ban on direct flights from India. The ban was originally set to expire today, on June 21st, but the government has opted to extend it for at least one more month, until July 21st. The decision comes as the number of cases of the Delta variant, first seen in India, continues to grow in Ontario.

Air India Boeing 777-300ER
Air India has also suspended all of its Canadian operations as the ban remains in place. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

While the health situation in India has changed drastically since the ban was put in place on April 22nd, the risk remains high. Canadian authorities consider the Delta variant to be 150% more transmissible than the original strain, pushing provinces to demand a continuation of the direct flight ban. For now, don’t expect to see direct flights between the two countries any time soon.

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Not the only way

Notably, unlike most others, Canada’s ban is on direct flights and not travelers themselves. This means passengers could enter Canada if they break their journey in a third country and take another COVID-19 test. Indeed, reports have begun emerging of travelers opting to purchase expensive tickets in order to fly to Canada from India with a stop.

Currently, very few countries have their borders open to Indian travelers. However, passengers have been creative with their stops. Cities like Belgrade, Mexico City, Addis Ababa, and others have emerged as popular locations to break journeys and take another COVID-19 test.

Qatar A350
Passengers have been taking one-stop and two-stop itineraries from India to reach Canada. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

Once passengers test negative, they are free to enter Canada once again. However, quarantine and testing rules on return still apply to all travelers from India. This includes a three-day stay in a hotel on arrival, a negative test, and 14 days of home quarantine. However, the ban still leaves space for travelers from India looking to return to reunite with their families, for studies, or any other reason.

Airlines locked out

For Air Canada and Air India, the announcement means another month of missing out on lucrative flights from India. Considering the larger Indian diaspora in Canada, ties between the countries are robust. This contributed to millions of yearly passengers between the countries, meaning big business for the flag carriers.

For now, any wishing to fly must be prepared for long journeys with multiple stopovers to reach Canada. However, an incoming proposal could make the hotel quarantine requirement obsolete for fully vaccinated individuals. As vaccination rates rise, we could see the flight ban also eased in the coming months.

What do you think about Canada’s decision to extend its flight ban? Let us know in the comments.

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