India Extends Blanket International Flight Ban Until August

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India’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has announced today that the blanket ban on international flying will continue through to August this year. While it did say additional services would be considered on a case by case basis, as yet no airline has been granted rights. However, separately talks are ongoing to form travel bubbles with other nations, including the Gulf states, the US, Canada, and Europe.

Air India, London, Repatriation
No commercial international flights will be allowed until August. Photo: Getty Images

No international flights in July

Towards the end of June, India announced that it would be continuing the ban on international flying for an additional two weeks. Today, that ban has again been extended, this time right to the end of July.

In usual fashion, the announcement by the DGCA arrive on Twitter, to the dismay of hundreds of travelers. The tweet confirmed that scheduled international commercial passenger services to and from India would be banned through to 23:59 on July 31st.

Indian’s stranded abroad and those in the country who usually live overseas had been hoping for a mid-July resumption of international travel. For now, it seems that the only aircraft taking off will the those operating the Vande Bharat Phase 4 services, which began today. This time, private carriers too are allowed to help with the repatriation missions.

Once again, the circular contained a sliver of hope that “International Scheduled flights may be allowed on selected routes by the competent authority on case to case basis.” However, that clause was included in the previous update also, and as yet, no airline has been permitted to operate commercially to India from any other country.

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What about travel bubbles?

It was reported today by Business Insider India that the Indian government was in talks with various nations to allow international travel through ‘bubble’ agreements. Bilateral bubbles between India and other countries have been discussed since late June, but as yet, nothing has materialized.

Indian airlines Getty
Travel bubbles could see foreign carriers back in the country. Photo: Getty Images

During a webinar organized by the GMR Group, Airports Authority of India (AAI) Chairman Arvind Singh said,

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“This morning, I took a brief from the key point person who is negotiating with the countries, and he said that we are in constant touch. We are working on a consensus to restart the international flights. This is going to be through air bubbles.

“Talks are mainly going on between India and the US, Canada, Europe and the Gulf countries to start flights in these bubbles.”

With the ban in place until August, it seems these travel bubbles will be the only way for travelers to take commercial flights to or from India. For now, the EU has banned flights from India due to its high rate of COVID infections. However, the EU rules are reviewed every fortnight, so this could change if India is seen to get control of the spread of the virus.

india domestic flight resumption
Domestic services are now allowed to ramp up to 45% of usual levels. Photo: Getty Images

For domestic flights, the government has now allowed airlines to ramp up their services to 45% of the original capacity. Flights were previously capped at one-third of their usual level, but MOCA has said today that this can now be enhanced.

Are you hoping for India’s international flight resumption soon? Let us know in the comments.

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