New Delhi: Amid the raging second wave of coronavirus pandemic, India’s aviation industry is facing its biggest crisis with more and more countries banning international flights. Domestic flights have also taken a toll as airlines restricted passenger capacity in order to curb the viral infection. The daily passenger count has dropped below 1 lakh for the first time in more than six months, according to the Union Civil Aviation Ministry.
International flights for regular passengers from India have been banned since March last year and only repatriation flights under the Vande Bharat Mission remained functional. However, with the rise of COVID-19 cases this year every major country including the US, UK, Dubai, Maldives, among others have restricted travel from India. This has primarily affected Air India, which was conducting the flight scheme with the central government. Domestic flights, too, have reduced their flight frequencies to popular destinations in order to reduce the chances of spreading the infection.
When will international flights resume in India?
The Union Civil Aviation Ministry has extended the flight ban on international travellers till May end. However, the Director-General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) said that scheduled flights may be allowed on select routes by the competent authority on a case to case basis. India currently has a bilateral air bubble agreement with 27 countries, which are also exempt from international flights. However, many of them have currently banned Indian flights fearing the new deadly strain.
Air India to Resume International Flights
Air India is expected to operate international flights from London to Mumbai from May 17. However, services will not be operational on May 18, 23, and 30.
Australia Resumes Repatriation Flights From India
The repatriation flights facilitated by the Australian government for its stranded citizens in India resumed from Friday, according to foreign minister Marise Payne. The flight departed from Sydney to pick up Australian passengers in New Delhi before arriving back in Darwin on Saturday. It has also carried life-saving oxygen equipment to India to support its COVID-19 response, she said.
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