International flights to and from India have been suspended till December 31 this year in view of the coronavirus pandemic and planes will fly only on select routes on a case-to-case basis, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) said in a circular on Thursday. The restrictions, however, are not applicable to international all-cargo operations and flights specially approved by the DGCA, it added. The extended suspension comes at a time when the country’s Covid-19 tally has soared past 9.26 million while 135,223 people have died of the disease.
“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 1ST of 31St December, 2020,” DGCA said in a notification ‘Travel and Visa restrictions related to Covid-19’.
The aviation regulator had earlier extended the suspension of international flight operations till November 30 and similarity allowed planes to fly on select routes. However, special international flights have been operating under the Vande Bharat Mission since May and under the bilateral ‘air bubble’ arrangements with selected countries since July.
India has formed air bubble pacts with around 18 countries, including the US, the UK, the UAE, Kenya, Bhutan and France. Under an air bubble pact between two countries, special international flights can be operated by their airlines between their territories.
Scheduled domestic passenger flights resumed in India on May 25 after a gap of two months amid the pandemic situation.