Dubai: India has extended its suspension of scheduled international passenger flights till September 30, aviation regulator DGCA said on Sunday.
"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 air bubble pacts with around 25 countries. Under an air bubble pact between two countries, special international flights can be operated by their airlines between their territories. The DGCA circular said that the suspension does not affect the operation of international all-cargo operations and flights specifically approved by it.
The India-first approach
Since the beginning of the pandemic last year, India has been operating flights under ‘air bubble’ agreements, giving the country’s airlines an advantage. The ‘India-first’ approach on certain routes ensures that India’s carriers do not face direct competition from operators in the UAE or other countries.
Given that UAE has always been open and liberal, I would love to see an open sky between the two countries – 30 per cent of our population here are of Indian origin and they will benefit from this
A report from CAPA India - an aviation consultancy - said that COVID-19 air bubbles had delivered the Indian government’s long-term objective of local airlines carrying over half of the international traffic, increasing share to 53 per cent, compared to 43.2 in pre-COVID-19 times.
At present, India has bilateral agreements with Bahrain, Afghanistan, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Canada, Germany, France, Japan, Iraq, Kuwait, Kenya, Nepal, the Maldives, Nigeria, the Netherlands, Qatar, Oman, Rwanda, Russia, Seychelles, Tanzania, Sri Lanka, Ukraine, the United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, the UK, and the US.