India Eyes Controlled Resumption Of UK Flights Next Week

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Many countries are adjusting and fine-tuning their border entry and flight policies after the sudden surge of UK travel bans placed last week in response to the new and more infectious strain of COVID-19. Yesterday, India’s minister responsible for civil aviation announced that flights between India and the UK would resume from January 8th, albeit with restrictions in place to limit the flow of travelers.

Air India 787
India has had a fair amount of restrictions on international travel for several months now, only allowing travel for select purposes. Photo: Julian Herzog via Wikimedia Commons 

Flights to resume on January 8th

The positive news came from Minister Hardeep Singh Puri, the Indian minister responsible for Civil Aviation as well as Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, via a post on Twitter, seen below:

Restrictions in place from January 8th to 23rd

As can be seen by the minister’s post, even though flights will be allowed once again, this good news will still come with restrictions, as operations until January 23rd will be restricted to just 15 flights per week to just four cities (Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, and Hyderabad).

According to Indian media outlet Mint, the prior situation saw numerous airlines each operate several weekly flights to cities such as Goa, Chennai, Kolkata, Ahmedabad, and Amritsar, in addition to the four permitted cities.

In fact, The Times of India notes that 67 flights per week were being operated by several airlines as follows:

British Airways 777
British Airways will once again be able to resume service, albeit at a reduced frequency. Photo: Getty Images

A challenge for airlines to adjust

If we are interpreting the Minister’s post correctly, it looks like British Airways and Air India will have to change the most, reducing their flights to just 15 per week. British Airways will have to cut its service nearly in half.

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With Virgin Atlantic and Vistara already flying below the limit, it looks like they will be able to pick up where they left off when the ban came into effect on December 23rd.

Before the snap travel ban just before Christmas, The Times of India reports that 2,000-2,500 passengers were flying to India every day from the UK.

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An Air India spokesperson is quoted as saying the following to The Times of India:

“All passengers had been contacted on December 22 and their (previously) booked flights were rescheduled. After (Friday’s) announcement, messages and mails have gone to the passengers informing them of the rescheduled date of travel. Passengers who were booked to fly on December 23 will be accommodated on the first flight out.”

With so many flights canceled during the past week, combined with some post-holiday build-up, it sounds like airlines will be busy trying to transport as many passengers as possible, working within their mandated limits. Hopefully, this can all be done safely.

Have you been affected by these travel restrictions? If so, will you attempt to get a flight during the middle of January? Please share your experience and story with us by leaving a comment.

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