Omicron scare: Govt puts on hold restart of regular international flights

The DGCA decision effectively means that international flights under the air transport bubble agreement will continue for now
The Centre has formally put on hold the resumption of scheduled international flights from December 15 in view of the global spread of the Omicron variant of the novel coronavirus.

“In view of the evolving global scenario with the emergence of new variants of concern, the situation is being watched closely in consultation with all stakeholders. An appropriate decision indicating the effective date of resumption of scheduled commercial international passenger services shall be notified in due course,” read a circular issued by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on Wednesday.

The DGCA decision effectively means that international flights under the air transport bubble agreement will continue for now. India has signed air transport bubble pacts with 31 countries. On November 30, 536 international flights were operated — this is around 44 per cent of the capacity in 2019’s winter schedule.

Last Friday, the DGCA had announced resumption of scheduled international flights in a graded fashion, based on Covid transmission risk. Scheduled flights were suspended last March and
have since been replaced with flights under the air transport bubble arrangement.

The decision to put scheduled international flights in abeyance follows Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi’s meeting with top officials on Saturday to review health preparedness in view of the Omicron threat.

Apart from increased surveillance and the need to increase the second dosing of the Covid vaccine, the PM had asked officials to review plans for easing international travel restrictions.

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