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India extends ban on scheduled international flights till January 31 

India extends ban on scheduled international flights till January 31 

DGCA's announcement comes amid the rise in Omicron cases across the world.

International flights have been suspended since Covid-19 International flights have been suspended since Covid-19

In a fresh circular, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on Thursday announced that the suspension on scheduled international commercial flights has been extended till 31 January. 

In a circular, DGCA stated, "In partial modification of circular dated 26-11-2021, the competent authority has decided to extend the suspension of Scheduled International commercial passenger services to/from India till 2359 hrs 1ST of 311t January, 2022."

However, this restriction shall not apply to international all-cargo operations and flight specifically approved by DGCA, the statement added. "International scheduled flights may be allowed on select routes on a case by cases basis."

The announcement comes amid the rise in newly-discovered Covid-19 strain named Omicron cases across the world and India's tightened norms for international passengers. 

In November, the Aviation Ministry had announced that it was in line to resume regular international flights from December 15.

At that time, the Ministry of Civil Aviation had stated,"The matter of resumption of scheduled commercial international passenger services to and from India has been examined in consultation with the Ministry of Home Affairs, the Ministry of External Affairs and the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, and it has been decided that scheduled commercial international passenger services to and from India may be resumed from December 15, 2021."

However, after the emergence of the Omicron cases, it postponed the resumption. Moreover, it has also formed a list of 'at risk' nations and travellers arriving from there need not take additional measures on arrival including post-arrival testing for Covid-19. The current list of "at-risk" countries, updated on 9 December, includes the United Kingdom, other countries in Europe, South Africa, Brazil, Botswana, China, Ghana, Mauritius, New Zealand, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Hong Kong and Israel.

The country had suspended international flights from 23 March 2020 amid coronavirus pandemic. However, special international passenger flights have been operating since July last year under air bubble arrangements formed with approximately 28 countries.

Under an air-bubble pact between two countries, special international flights can be operated by their airlines between their territories with specific restrictions.

India has formed air bubble pacts with around 32 countries including the US, the UK, the UAE, Kenya, Bhutan and France.