The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has announced that regular commercial international flights have been suspended till February 28 amid Omicron scare. By Manas Sen Gupta
In its latest update, the DGCA announced that regular international flights will remain suspended until February 28. The circular, which was posted on the Authority’s official Twitter handle, states that while operations of regular flights had been postponed, those operating under the air bubble arrangement will continue to be unaffected.
— DGCA (@DGCAIndia) January 19, 2022
The DCGA postpones international flights
This is not the first time the Authority has postponed the resumption of regular international flights. The DCGA had earlier announced the full resumption of international flights to and from India starting from December 15, 2021. However, with the rising cases of the Omicron variant globally, Prime Minister Narendra Modi requested officials to review these plans on November 15, 2021, after which, these flights were postponed indefinitely.
“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, and an appropriate decision indicating the effective date of resumption of scheduled commercial international passenger services shall be notified in due course,” the DGCA said in a statement.
— DGCA (@DGCAIndia) December 1, 2021
India has air bubble agreements with 31 countries including France, Germany, Netherlands and the UK, and flights will continue to operate on a smaller scale between these countries.
The country suspended international flights on March 23, 2020. In June 2020, special flights under the Vande Bharat mission were started to rescue Indian citizens stuck abroad.
The Omicron variant was reported from Nigeria and Saudi Arabia on December 1, 2021, taking the total number of countries with confirmed cases of the new variant to 22.
Botswana, the UK, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Hong Kong, Israel, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland are the other countries that have reported positive cases of the Omicron variant.
On Thursday, December 2, India reported its first cases of the Omicron variant in Karnataka. Two male foreign returnees tested positive for the variant, a Times of India report stated. Rules have been tightened at airports regarding testing and quarantine of all international passengers arriving in India.
“In view of the evolving global scenario with the emergence of new variants of concern, the situation is being closely monitored and reviewed in consultation with other Ministries, with regard to taking any further decision on the issue,” Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia had said in a written reply to the Rajya Sabha on November 29.