The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) in India has extended the ban on scheduled overseas passenger flights till 31 July 2021.

In a circular signed by DGCA joint director general Sunil Kumar, the civil aviation regulator said: “In partial modification of the circular dated 26-06-2020, the competent authority has further extended the validity of the circular issued on the subject cited above regarding scheduled international commercial passenger services to/from India till 2359 hours IST of 31st July 2021.”

However, this ban will not be applicable to dedicated cargo flights and flights operating under the bilateral air bubble pacts with selected nations.

Scheduled international flights may also be permitted on specified routes on a case-to-case basis.

The restriction on scheduled overseas flights was earlier scheduled to end on 30 June after a 15-month gap.

In March last year, India suspended international flights for the first time after the government imposed a countrywide lockdown during the first wave of the pandemic.

Currently, the country has a bilateral air bubble arrangement with 28 nations for flying special international passenger flights.

Some of these countries are Afghanistan, Bahrain, Iraq, Canada, the UAE, Sri Lanka, France, Germany, Japan, the Maldives, Qatar, Seychelles, Tanzania, Ukraine, Nigeria, the UK and the US.

Bangladesh, Bhutan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Kuwait, Netherlands, Russia, Rwanda, Oman, Nepal and Uzbekistan are also covered under the air bubble agreement.

In April, several countries restricted travel to and from India due to the increase in Covid-19 cases in the country.

These nations included Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, New Zealand, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Italy, Kuwait, Oman, Singapore and the UAE.

Later, a few of these nations lifted the travel ban to and from the country.

Meanwhile, Indian Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman recently announced that after travel curbs are eased, the first 500,000 tourists to visit the country would be issued visas free of cost.