The coronavirus-induced suspension of scheduled international passenger flights has been extended till October 31, India's aviation regulator DGCA said on Tuesday, September 28. The ban was earlier till September 30.
"However, international scheduled flights may be allowed on selected routes by the competent authority on a case-to-case basis," the Directorate General of Civil Aviation added.
Scheduled international passenger services have been suspended in India since March 23, 2020, due to the coronavirus pandemic. But special international flights have been operating under the Vande Bharat Mission since May 2020 and under bilateral 'air bubble' arrangements with selected countries since July 2020.
India has formed air bubble pacts with approximately 28 countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, the United Arab Emirates, Kenya, Bhutan and France among others. Under an air bubble pact between two countries, special international flights can be operated by their airlines between their territories.
The DGCA circular also said that the suspension does not affect the operation of international all-cargo operations and flights specifically approved by it.
While domestic flights resumed in May 2020 and were gradually increased, international travel remained suspended with the consecutive extensions of the ban. In view of the second wave of COVID-19 infections, several countries had suspended all flights from India. Although this was eventually lifted, some countries placed strict restrictions on passengers coming from India.
Meanwhile, after a ban that lasted for more than five months, Canada announced that it will allow direct flights from India. The new rule came into effect on September 27. Transport Canada said that travellers must carry proof of a negative COVID-19 molecular test from the approved Genestrings Laboratory at the Delhi airport. The test should have been taken within 18 hours of the scheduled departure of the direct flight to Canada.