When Might India Allow International Flights To Resume?

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With yesterday’s announcement that India will resume domestic flights from next week, when could we see international flights again? India banned all international flights in late March to prevent imported cases of the virus. Since then, the government has operated hundreds of repatriation flights but given no indication of when scheduled flights will return. Let’s find out more.

Delhi Airport India
India banned all international flights in late March. Photo: Getty

International flights remain tricky

Looking at countries that have contained the virus we can clearly see that international flights remain a challenge. China, the country of origin and the first to lift its lockdown allowed international flights to begin, only to see a number of imported cases. These imported cases led to the government adding restrictions on the number of flights allowed to fly.

China Southern Daxing Airport
China was forced to add restrictions after international flights led to a rise in cases. Photo: Getty Images

With the coronavirus now reaching nearly every country, it is impossible to determine whether passengers on board have the virus without going through a lengthy process. Emirates attempted to use rapid testing kits to ensure that no one had the virus, however, those kits proved to be inaccurate. There seems to be no safe way to minimize virus fears without prolonged quarantine or slow blood tests.

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What will India do?

India’s decision to restart domestic flights has led to a flurry of hope that international flights are on the horizon too. However, it is important to note that the government can control most aspects of domestic flights, from rules to prices. When it comes to international flights, there are other risks involved.

Air India
Restarting international flights will need other countries to life travel restrictions too. Photo: Getty Images

Even if India did lift its ban, countries around the world have placed restrictions on travel. According to the IATA, only a few countries haven’t imposed restrictions of some kind. These restrictions can range from government-run quarantines to self-isolation. India is also offering hundreds of repatriation flights to bring home or send back any stranded citizens, reducing chances that international flights are seen as essential.

Even when flights do restart, India might only allow flights from low-risk countries (of which there are few right now), and even then would need to put in place strict health measures. It was one of the first countries to impose a mandatory quarantine when the outbreak began, a step it could continue if flights resume. Such strict measures will likely deter any international travel.

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What is the world doing?

While the coronavirus has put most of life on hold, international flights are still continuing. To ensure safety, airports and governments have taken a number of unique measures. Hong Kong has employed full-fledged coronavirus testing, along with tracking travelers, and constant airport cleaning. Other countries are also following along and offering testing facilities to those returning from abroad. However, in the midst of a global testing capacity shortage, these plans do seem difficult at a widespread scale.

Vistara 787 Dreamliner
It will likely be a while before we see Vistara’s new 787 flying internationally. Photo: Vistara

In light of all this, it seems unlikely India will resume international flights soon. Even if it does, we could see only a handful of destinations and strict health measures.

What do you think about restarting international flights? Let us know in the comments below.

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