India Extends International Flight Suspension Until September

As India’s coronavirus situation fails to improve, the country’s civil aviation body is once again extending its suspension on international passenger flights for another month, until August 31st. International flights were suspended in March to contain the spread of coronavirus, and the Director-General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has been extending this suspension regularly ever since. This has been pushed back every few weeks.

Air India Narrowbody
The flight suspensions have heavily impacted India’s flag carrier Air India. Photo: Getty Images

According to The Indian Express, a statement from the DGCA says the following:

“The government has decided to extend the suspension on the scheduled international commercial passenger services to/ from India up to 2359 hours IST of 31st August,” 

An ongoing saga

When this crisis first began in March and flight suspensions were imposed, the biggest question for many was, “when will flights resume?” Since then, it has become clear that, as a minimum, the epidemiological situation must improve significantly for the country to reconsider international flights.

To give at least some short-term certainty for travelers and the industry, the DGCA has decided to impose bans several weeks at a time. This allows airlines some time to adjust their policies and handle booking changes.

Thus, the news of this extension is the latest in a series of many. This may not even be the last as India’s daily case count continues to climb.

Indian Airlines
At least carriers have been allowed to operate domestically since the end of May. Photo: Getty Images

July travel bubbles

There had been some exceptions to this policy. This is because India had signed agreements with several countries to form travel bubbles.

United Airlines was able to operate a daily flight from Delhi to Newark, along with a thrice-weekly Delhi to San Francisco service during the last half of July. Air France also operated flights from Delhi, Bangalore, and Mumbai to Paris, for a total of 28 flights. These services ended as of today, with no news of continuations.

United and Air France
United and Air France operated flights to India for the latter part of July. Photo: Pikrepo

Not all countries are waiting

The news of this extension comes just days after Brazil announced it would be reopening its international borders to the world, allowing foreign tourists to enter upon the condition that a valid health insurance policy is obtained.

Some are critical of this policy change as the country has the second-highest coronavirus case count in the world. Only the United States has a higher count.

With the highest number of cases in the world, the United States has a somewhat relaxed policy as well – allowing travelers from many parts of the world to enter except for the following countries:

  • China
  • Iran
  • European Schengen area (Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Monaco, San Marino, Vatican City)
  • United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland)
  • Republic of Ireland
  • Brazil

Of course, for most countries that have managed their situations and lowered active and new case counts, more conditions. So, they often list countries such as the US, Brazil, and India as restricted entries.

Will you have to change your travel plans because of this extension? Do you think it will be extended yet again past the end of the month? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.