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India extends international passenger flight ban till Feb 28

India extends international passenger flight ban till Feb 28

Flights under the air bubble arrangements will continue.

India will keep its scheduled international passenger flights suspended until Feb 28, civil aviation authorities said on Wednesday (Jan 19), as the country battles a fresh wave of Covid-19 cases. The restriction will not apply to international cargo operations and flights approved by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation and those under existing bubble agreements, said an official notification.

Last year in November, after India started to witness a decline in daily number of Covid-19 infections, authorities had said that international flight operations would resume from Dec 15. However, as the omicron variant triggered new waves globally, India decided to continue the international flight ban.

India is currently witnessing a huge number of daily coronavirus cases, which is believed to be driven by the omicron variant. On Wednesday morning, the Health Ministry said 282,970 new infections were registered over the past day, pushing the total count to 37.9 million. The death toll stands at 487,202, with 441 new fatalities. As of Wednesday, more than 1.58 billion vaccine doses have been administered in the country.

Indian Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya said on Tuesday evening that over 50% of the population aged 15-18 age group have received their first vaccine dose.

International flights were first suspended in March 2020 after a nationwide lockdown was imposed to tackle the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic.

India currently has a bilateral air bubble arrangement for the operation of special international passenger flights with 28 countries, including Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Bahrain, Canada, France, Germany, Iraq, Japan, the Maldives, Nigeria, Qatar, the UAE, the UK and the USA. 

The other countries with which India has such a pact are Bangladesh, Bhutan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Kuwait, Nepal, Netherlands, Oman, Russia, Rwanda, Seychelles, Tanzania, Ukraine and Uzbekistan.