After 2 yrs, international flights resume on Mar 27

Updated on Mar 09, 2022 06:18 AM IST

India suspended scheduled international flights on March 23, 2020 and in July that year, opened a so-called air bubble arrangement with 37 countries to and from which flights were allowed in a limited manner.

Ticket booking service providers said resumption of international commercial flights will help reduce the airfares.(HT file photo. Representative image)
Ticket booking service providers said resumption of international commercial flights will help reduce the airfares.(HT file photo. Representative image)
ByNeha LM Tripathi, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

Routine international flight operations will resume in India from March 27, the government said on Tuesday, lifting what will then be over two years of restrictions on air travel in and out of the country put in place due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

India suspended scheduled international flights on March 23, 2020 and in July that year, opened a so-called air bubble arrangement with 37 countries to and from which flights were allowed in a limited manner.

“After deliberation with stakeholders and keeping in view the decline in the Covid-19 caseload, we have decided to resume international travel from March 27 onwards,” civil aviation minister Jyotiraditya Scindia said, adding that “with this step, I am confident the sector will reach new heights”.

A statement by the ministry explained the decision further, adding that it was based on “the increased vaccination coverage across the globe”.

“The suspension of scheduled commercial international passenger services to/from India, thus, stands extended only upto 2359 hrs IST on 26.03.2022 and air bubble arrangements shall accordingly be extended to this extent only,” the statement added.

The move also comes at a time when Covid-19 cases have reduced to record lows across several parts of the world, including India, after several waves tore through the global population, leaving a baseline immunity that further adds to the protection from vaccines.

On Monday, India reported 3,527 new cases, the lowest since May 12, 2020, or the early weeks of the pandemic, according to HT’s Covid dashboard.

The civil aviation ministry said that the international operations will be subjected to the Union health ministry’s guidelines for international travel, which can change from time to time.

According to ratings agency ICRA , the waning Omicron wave resulted in growth in domestic air passenger traffic by around 19% at around 7.6 million people in February 2022, compared to around 6.4 million in January 2022.

A statement by the ministry explained the decision further, adding that it was based on “the increased vaccination coverage across the globe”.
A statement by the ministry explained the decision further, adding that it was based on “the increased vaccination coverage across the globe”.

Airlines and travel industry stakeholders welcomed the step.

IndiGo’s chief executive officer Ronojoy Dutta welcomed the government’s decision to allow resumption of scheduled commercial international flight operations from India.

“This step will provide impetus to the economic recovery for the sector and the nation, with borders opening for tourists. We look forward to connecting our customers to the people and places they love. We will soon be announcing the schedule for our international destinations, in accordance with these new guidelines,” he said.

Ticket booking service providers said resumption of international commercial flights will help reduce the airfares.

“Resumption of international commercial flights will also regularise the demand-supply balance resulting in lower international airfares,” said Aloke Bajpai, co-founder and group CEO, ixigo.

“This is great news for all travellers and the industry, especially before the peak summer season. The demand for international travel is picking up in India and there has been a significant uptick in travel search queries for popular international destinations like Australia, Sri Lanka, US & UK,” Bajpai added.

President of Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO) Rajiv Mehra said that even though the decision was on the cards, it is a big relief for the entire travel and tourism fraternity. “We look forward to the revival of international tourism in the country. To enhance the foreign tourist flow to the country, we urge the government to restore all visas that were issued earlier but were suspended due to the pandemic,” he said.

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