Eye on Omicron: India defers full resumption of international flights

Updated on Dec 01, 2021 05:09 PM IST

Regular commercial international passenger flights were scheduled to restart from December 15 after being suspended in March last year.

DGCA has said it will notify the date of full resumption of commercial international passenger services later and was monitoring the situation following the global alarm over the Omicron variant of the coronavirus. (AFP Photo/Representative use)
DGCA has said it will notify the date of full resumption of commercial international passenger services later and was monitoring the situation following the global alarm over the Omicron variant of the coronavirus. (AFP Photo/Representative use)
ByNeha LM Tripathi

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on Wednesday postponed the full resumption of commercial international passenger flights from December 15 citing the new coronavirus variant of concern - Omicron.

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on Wednesday postponed the full resumption of commercial international passenger flights from December 15 citing the new coronavirus variant of concern - Omicron.

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“In view of the emerging situation, we are postponing the resumption of international flight operations. We will, however, continue flights under the air bubble agreement,” said DGCA director general Arun Kumar.

Also Read | 6 test Covid positive on Day 1 of new guidelines, samples sent for Omicron test

India has air bubble agreements with 28 countries such as the UK, Netherlands, France and Germany.

Earlier in the day, the DGCA issued a circular and said it is monitoring the situation related to Omicron and will notify the date of full resumption of commercial international passenger services from December 15 accordingly.

 

“In view of the global scenario with the emergence of the new variant of concern, the situation is being watched closely in consultation with all stakeholders and an appropriate decision indicating the effective date of resumption of scheduled commercial international passenger services shall be notified in due course,” the DGCA said in the circular.

Also Read | Amid Omicron scare, 3 Covid positive foreigners in Vrindavan leave India without informing authorities: Report

The World Health Organisation on Friday classified Omicron detected in South Africa as a variant of concern. It came on the day India said it will allow the full schedule of regular international flights to resume with all countries from December 15. A day later, Prime Minister Narendra Modi asked officials to review the plan to ease international travel restrictions after the new variant triggered a global alarm. He called for the need to be “proactive in light of the new threat”.

Also Read | WHO confirms Omicron Covid-19 variant in 23 countries. Here’s the full list

The guidelines were on Monday revised and mandate all international travellers arriving in India to mandatorily fill up self-declaration forms and upload their negative RT-PCR test reports. Airlines have been asked to ensure that passengers have negative test reports before boarding flights.

Travellers coming from countries “at-risk” will have to mandatorily undergo RT-PCR testing on arrival. If tested negative, they will have to undergo home quarantine for seven days and get re-tested. If tested positive in the initial test or on repeat testing, the passengers will be sent to isolation facilities while their samples will be sent for genomic testing.

Also Read | Centre issues FAQs for international passengers amid Omicron variant scare

A random 2% of the travellers coming from countries other than those classified as “at-risk” will undergo RT-PCR testing at the airports on arrival. If they are found to have Covid-19, their samples will be sent for genome testing for the omicron variant and treatment shall be conducted as per protocols. If tested negative the traveller will be asked to monitor health for at least the next 14 days.

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