India extends ban on international flights till August 31

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India on Friday extended the ban on international commercial passenger flights till August 31. But the restriction shall not apply to international cargo operations and flights specifically approved by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).

Earlier this month, in the wake of a surge in Covid-19 cases across the country, the civil aviation ministry had extended the ban on international flights till July 31. Prior to that, the earlier order had said the ban would be in place till July 15.

To allow gradual movement of passenger traffic during the Covid-19 health crisis, ‘Transport Bubble’ agreements have been signed with United States, France and Germany. Air France and United Airlines of the US will operate a limited number of international flights under so-called “air bubble” arrangements with India.

ALSO READ | India extends ban on international flights till July 31

The country has also signed a travel bubble agreement with Kuwait to evacuate stranded passengers both to and from India. Further similar arrangements are likely to be put in place to ease passenger movements from different countries.

A bilateral air bubble refers to a travel corridor between two countries that wish to reopen their borders and re-establish connections with each other. International flights to and from India have been suspended since March 23 as the Covid-19 pandemic spread across the world. Limited domestic flights have since resumed from May 25.

During the suspension of international flights due to the Covid-19 outbreak in India, more than 2,500 repatriation flights by foreign carriers to evacuate stranded passengers to and from India were approved by the government.

Under the Centre’s Vande Bharat Mission, national carrier Air India and Air India Express have evacuated 2,67,436 stranded passengers and other flights have brought back 4,86,811 stranded passengers between May 6 to July 30.

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