India to resume scheduled international flights from March 27

A plane prepares to land at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport in Mumbai. PHOTO: AFP

NEW DELHI (REUTERS, XINHUA) - India said on Tuesday (March 8) that it will resume scheduled commercial flight operations to international destinations from March 27, restarting unrestricted travel after two years and for the first time since the Covid-19 pandemic began.

"After having recognised the increased vaccination coverage across the globe and in consultation with the stakeholders, the government of India has decided to resume scheduled commercial international passenger services," the ministry of civil aviation said in a statement.

“The suspension of scheduled commercial international passenger services to/from India, thus, stands extended only up to 23:59 hours (local time) on March 26, 2022, and air bubble arrangements shall accordingly be extended to this extent only,” the ministry said.

India currently allows airlines to operate a limited number of flights to countries with which it has a bilateral arrangement under an "air bubble" agreement. This has limited airlines' operations and hurt their profitability.

The regular international commercial flight services in India were first suspended on March 23, 2020, soon after the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in the country.

The ministry said international operations shall be subject to strict adherence to guidelines issued by the federal health ministry for international travel.

Domestic flights resumed operations in India on May 25, 2020, after nearly two months of suspension. However, international flights continue to remain suspended.

Indian authorities have been operating special international flights since May 2020 and under bilateral “air bubble” arrangements with select countries since July 2020.

Last Friday (March 4), the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) said vaccinated air travellers will be able to enter Singapore from more cities in Malaysia, Indonesia and India without having to serve quarantine.

The Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) for India will extend beyond Chennai, Delhi, and Mumbai to include all Indian cities.

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