Since March 23, no international scheduled flight has departed from or landed in India. Almost all of the services until now have been specifically for the purpose of repatriation and cargo. However, The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has, in the last month, allowed various airlines to operate charter services. Etihad Airways, starting on July 12, will perform a limited number of select flights from six Indian cities.
According to The Economic Times, between July 12 and July 26, Etihad will fly special flights from Abu Dhabi to Bengaluru, Chennai, Kochi, Delhi, Hyderabad, and Mumbai. The flights will be open for booking for eligible passengers. The decision came after the governments of the UAE and India agreed to allow flights that would facilitate the return of UAE nationals stuck in India.
All the eligible passengers for the above flights will need approval from the UAE’s Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship (ICA). Many Indian nationals with valid residence permits of the UAE, will also be allowed to take the flights. At the same time, under the agreement, Etihad Airways can fly inbound passengers into India. Also, airlines like IndiGo and Air India are now capable of catering to outward demand from India to the UAE.
However, the main objective of the above special flights is solely for the purpose of repatriation. As of now, it is not possible to make bookings on onward Etihad connections. Currently, the Etihad Airways website displays that scheduled services into India will start from August 1 onwards. However, the final decision still rests with the DGCA.
Etihad Airways fighting for survival
In the last week, Etihad Airways has announced that in August it aims to increase its operational capacity to 45% of its pre-coronavirus level. It intends to resume scheduled services to 58 destinations from Abu Dhabi. However, a lot will depend on travel restrictions imposed by countries like India, the United States of America, and Australia.
Just like other airlines from the Middle East, Etihad heavily depends on connecting passengers and tourist arrivals. In light of the ongoing pandemic, the tourism industry has taken a hit, and global travel has collapsed. Such carriers have hence not been able to make a satisfactory amount of revenue.
Moreover, unlike Dubai, Abu Dhabi has not yet opened its borders for tourist arrivals. Even if it does, it is highly doubtful that the current scenario would make the situation any better. As of June, the airline was operating to 29 destinations worldwide.
International flights from India
As of now, the DGCA has not released any firm statement on this matter. Its been almost four months since the last scheduled international flight from India took off. As travel is a necessity for many, the above news is much-awaited. Although the current international flight ban is till July 31, it is highly likely that it might be extended further.
Have you traveled out of/ into India since March? Let us know in the comments.