Coronavirus

India suspends international flights until the end of August

The Directorate-General of Civil Aviation has announced the suspension of international flights until the end of August except via "transport bubbles."

India suspends international flights until the end of August
DIBYANGSHU SARKAR AFP

The Directorate-General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has extended the suspension of international flights to and from India until the end of August due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, with the country having signed agreements with the USA, France and Germany to allow "bubble transport" in a bid to bring back passenger traffic gradually. However, this order will not be applied to cargo flight operations approved by DGCA.

"This restriction shall not apply to international all-cargo operations and flights specifically approved by DGCA," an official statement said.

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Despite the suspension of international aviation following the Covid-19 outbreak, the government announced in a statement that a total of more than 2,500 repatriation flights have been approved and conducted by foreign air carriers in order to transport stranded people to and from India. Air India and Air Indian Express have transported 2,67,436 stranded passengers under the Vande Bharat Mission, while other carriers managed to move  4,86,811 stranded passengers back to their homes between 6 May and 30 July.

Transport bubble agreements

Stranded passengers walk past a departure information board at the Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport in Kolkata.

India has also revealed that agreements regarding "transport bubbles" have been signed with the USA, France and Germany to send stranded citizens back to their homelands: an agreement signed with UAE came in effect between 12 July and 26 July with people moving in both directions.

Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri announced that a transport bubble agreement is to be signed with the UK soon to allow stranded citizens of both countries to travel between Delhi and London on two daily flights. India recently signed a similar agreement with Kuwait to serve the same purpose.