India’s aviation regulator, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation, has extended the ban on international air travel till March 31. The ban has been extended due to the resurgence of COVID-19 cases across the world.
Notably, COVID-19 cases in several countries is once again moving northwards despite the governments trying their best to speed up vaccination drives.
In India too, the daily surge in cases in several states has increased significantly due to a lethargic approach of the people as well as authorities in ensuring compliance with COVID-19 safety protocols.
DGCA in a circular said, “The competent authority has further extended the validity of circular issued on the subject cited above regarding Scheduled International commercial passenger services to/from India till 2359 hours IST of 31st March, 2021.”
The regulator, however, clarified that the travel ban will not be applicable to international all-cargo operations and flights specially approved by the aviation watchdog.
“However, International Scheduled flights may be allowed on selected routes by the competent authority on a case-to-case basis,” it added.
— DGCA (@DGCAIndia) February 26, 2021
Ban on international flights imposed in 2020
The restrictions on international flights in the country were announced in March last year to check the transmission of the coronavirus. Over the months, the Centre, which is the highest executive authority in matters related to the pandemic, has eased restrictions in most of the sectors of the economy but not the international flight operations.
The Centre allowed domestic flight operations later last year. Last December, the authorities had placed a ban on flights to and from the United Kingdom over the discovery of a highly contagious strain of the coronavirus in the European country. The ban was later revoked.
However, eventually, people infected with the UK variant of the coronavirus were detected in India and isolated. India is moving ahead with its COVID-19 immunisation campaign, but only a very small percentage of people have received the vaccine so far. Notably, vaccination of people above 50 years and those with co-morbidities is scheduled to start from March 1.
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