After 21 months of hiatus, India announced resume of regular international flights to all countries from December 15. Again, the Ministry of Civil Aviation on Friday has made an announcement saying the scheduled international flight operations will be resuming based on the countries recognized as “at-risk” by The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
“The matter has been reviewed and the competent authority has decided to resume the scheduled commercial international passenger services to/from India with effect from 15 December 2021,” the reports from the office of Director General of Civil Aviation.
‘Air-Bubble’ Arrangements with Countries of ‘At-Risk’
‘Air- bubble’ settings that had restricted the international flights from India to some countries during Covid will be called out, again, from mid-December.
“Resumption of scheduled commercial international passenger services with effect from 15 December, 2021 would imply reversion to bilaterally agreed capacity entitlements and termination of air bubble arrangements. However, due to prevailing Covid-19 situation, the capacity entitlements shall be as per the category of countries based on enlistment of countries as “at-risk” from time to time by the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (MoHFW),” the reports remark.
The Health Ministry has propped countries in Europe, including the United Kingdom, and South Africa, Brazil, Bangladesh, Botswana, China, Mauritius, New Zealand, Zimbabwe, Singapore, Hong Kong and Israel under the ‘at-risk’ category in lieu of ‘International flights from India’.
Wariness to New Variant Found in South-Africa
On the contrary, this decision comes at a time when some countries like the UK and Italy are about to re-impose the limited travel restrictions policy, keeping in mind the findings of a new Covid variant in South Africa.
However, India will become the first South Asian country to open the international flights from India in a full-fledged mode since the pandemic had hit the world and can gain a lot from the first mover advantage.
According to the ministry statements, the reports claim that the resumption will be offering more options and lower fares for the international flights from India.
“This will give relief to passengers travelling to countries where international flights are resuming by arresting high fares. Doing this in phases will also help keep the virus spread in check as a few European countries have reported fresh cases of coronavirus,” Gaurav Bhatia, announces, the executive director at Bird Group.
An airline executive, on condition of anonymity, stated that, “This opening would mean giving away our traffic to Gulf as well as Southeast Asian carriers and further impacting the revival of Indian carriers”.
On a note, the knocking of a new Covid-19 variant in Southern Africa has played havoc with global aviation once more. Some countries have stopped the travel connections from South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Namibia, Eswatini and Zambia due to the new variant jolting.