India may resume regular international flights from the middle of March as the aviation ministry has sought the health ministry’s approval to resume regular international flights. The health ministry’s approval is mandatory in this case due to the prevailing COVID situation across the globe.
“India’s domestic traffic has rebounded fast and a decision was needed to be taken on resumption of international flights. A proposal has been sent to the health ministry for resuming international flights from March 15,” said an official source in the know, who did not want to be identified.
ET has reported last week that Indians will be able to plan their international holidays from this summer, as the aviation ministry will start the process to resume international flights after the capacity offered by domestic airlines reach 80%.
Indian airlines used to operate 2,800 flights at its peak pre-COVID and breached 80% of those numbers last week. Domestic passenger numbers have rebound fast too and Indian airlines carried 343,000 passengers on Sunday on 2335 flights.
The aviation ministry had, in November last year, announced plans to resume regular international flights starting December 15, 2021, but rescinded that order due to the rise in Omicron cases.
As the third wave of the pandemic abates, India announced to drop the requirements of a negative Covid-19 test result report and compulsory quarantine for fully vaccinated passengers arriving from 82 countries.
This move was welcomed by the industry and was seen by the industry as a prelude to the opening up of the country.
India had cancelled international flights in March 2020 when the first wave of the pandemic started sweeping across the world. It later opened international flights to bring back Indians from foreign countries, followed by bubble flight arrangements with select countries, where airlines were allowed to carry passengers only to their home bases.
India has bubble flight agreements with 37 countries including the US and the UK. Bubble agreements are temporary arrangements between two countries aimed at restarting commercial passenger services when regular international flights are suspended and are reciprocal in nature.
Airline industry sources say this is the right time for the country to open as countries across the globe are opening up.
“Resuming international flights makes sense because several countries across the globe are opening up.
“Resuming international flights makes sense because several countries across the globe are opening up international flights. This would ensure that flights from India will be accepted by these countries too or one would have to wait for the other country to launch flights,” said an airline executive, who did not want to be identified.
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