In the midst of second coronavirus wave, the Director General of Civil Aviation extended the suspension of scheduled international flights on Friday until May 31. The earlier deadline for flight cancellations was set to expire today.
However, international scheduled flights may be permitted on selected routes on a case-by-case basis by the competent authority,” the DGCA stated in a circular.
The restriction does not apply to international all-cargo operations or flights that have been specifically approved by the aviation regulator, it adds.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, scheduled international passenger services have been suspended in India since March 23 of last year. However, special international flights have been operating under the Vande Bharat Mission since May of last year, and bilateral “air bubble” agreements with selected countries have been in place since July.
As New Delhi battles a calamitous rise in coronavirus infections, Australia has announced a temporary ban on direct passenger flights from India.
It follows similar moves by countries such as Canada, the United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom to halt or restrict flights in response to India’s spiraling Covid crisis. This morning, 3.86 lakh Covid cases were reported in the country, bringing the total caseload to 1.87 crore. International assistance has begun to arrive, with the United States, the United Kingdom, and several other countries sending emergency supplies to Covid.
The massive increase in infections has resulted in restrictive measures, including night curfews in some states. In a recent address to the nation, Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged state governments to use lockdowns only as a “last resort.” The country has passed the sobering mark of 200,000 Covid deaths.