India extends suspension of scheduled international flights till January 31


Guwahati: The suspension of scheduled international commercial passenger services to and from India has been extended till January 31, 2022, the Director-General of Civil Aviation announced on December 9.

The ban on scheduled international flights will be in place till 11:59 pm on January 31.

This suspension will not be applicable to any international all-cargo operation and flight specifically approved by the DGCA.

A circular issued by the civil aviation regulator read: “In partial modification of circular dated 26-11-2021, the competent authority has decided to extend the suspension of scheduled international commercial passenger services to/from India till 2359 hrs IST of January 31, 2022. This restriction shall not apply to international all-cargo operations and flights specifically approved by DGCA.”

The DGCA further clarified that some international scheduled flights may be allowed on select routes by the competent authority on a case-to-case basis.

Scheduled international passenger flights have been suspended in India since March 23, 2020, due to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. However, special international flights have been operating under the Vande Bharat mission to help expats fly back home and under special diplomatic arrangements with various countries since July 2020. India has air bubble arrangements with nearly 28 nations, including the United States, the United Kingdom, and the United Arab Emirates, among others.

In view of satisfactory COVID-19 vaccination coverage and fast declining active coronavirus cases in the country, the Government of India had planned to resume operation of scheduled international passenger flights from December 15. But, the order had to be revoked after a new, heavily mutated strain of the novel coronavirus – the Omicron variant – was detected in South Africa raising fresh concerns about health safety and related protocols.