The Government of India has extended the ban on scheduled international commercial passenger flights until 30 September 2021.
It was announced by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), a statutory body of the Indian government that regulates civil aviation in the country.
In a circular signed by the DGCA joint director general Sunil Kumar said: “In partial modification of circular dated 26-06-2020, the competent authority has further extended the validity of circular issued on the subject cited above regarding scheduled international commercial passenger services to/from India till 2359 hrs IST of 30 September 2021.”
Citing an increase in the Covid-19 cases in the country, India suspended scheduled international flights on 23 March last year.
However, the nation has been operating special flights to international locations through its Vande Bharat Mission since May 2020.
Last July, the country also entered into bilateral ‘air bubble’ arrangements with many countries for resuming flight services.
Currently, India has ‘air bubble’ pact with 25 countries including the US, Bahrain, Afghanistan, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Ethiopia, the UAE, Uzbekistan, Canada, Germany, France, Japan, Iraq, Kuwait, Kenya, Nepal, Maldives, Nigeria, Netherlands, Qatar, Oman, Rwanda, Russia, Seychelles, Tanzania, Sri Lanka, Ukraine and the UK.
Some of the countries banned air travel to and from India during the peak stage of the Covid-19 second wave.
In its latest release, the DGCA said that this restriction is not applicable to international cargo operations and flights specifically approved by the authority.
In June this year, DGCA extended the ban on scheduled overseas passenger flights till 31 July 2021.
At that time, DGCA said that this ban will not be applicable to dedicated cargo flights and flights operating under the bilateral air bubble pacts with selected nations.