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Thursday, December 03, 2020

Ban on international flights: When and how can Indians travel abroad?

Currently, those wanting to travel internationally will have to depend on air bubble arrangements India enters into. As of now, India has entered air bubble or transport corridor arrangements with 19 countries.

Written by Pranav Mukul , Edited by Explained Desk | New Delhi | October 29, 2020 3:41:15 pm
A passenger flight lands at Dum Dum airport, Kolkata. File/Express Photo by Partha Paul

India has extended the ban on scheduled international commercial flights till November 30. While this has been done in line with the extension of last month’s unlock guidelines, it means that those wanting to travel into India from abroad or vice-versa will have to depend on the repatriation flights under the Vande Bharat Mission, or the air bubble arrangements that India enters with other countries.

Why has India extended the ban on scheduled international commercial flights?

The government has stated that the resumption of regular international operations will depend on the nature of the Coronavirus — something that will decide India’s acceptability to other jurisdictions. Given that there is still a threat of transmission through international travel, regular flight operations are not being given a green light. With the government’s extension of the unlock guidelines, international flight operations have also remain suspended.📣 Express Explained is now on Telegram

What is the way forward for international flights?

Currently, those wanting to travel internationally will have to depend on air bubble arrangements India enters into. As of now, India has entered air bubble or transport corridor arrangements with 19 countries. These are Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bahrain, Bhutan, Canada, France, Germany, Iraq, Japan, Kenya, Maldives, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Oman, Qatar, the UAE, the UK, Ukraine and the US. In addition, Vande Bharat flights to several countries are being operated. Industry sources have alluded that given the nature of the pandemic, it seems likely that regular commercial operations on international sectors may remain suspended till as late as March 2021.

What is the impact of international flight suspension?

On Thursday, aviation consultancy CAPA India revised its forecast for international airline passenger numbers for financial year 2020-21. It said that as a result of the delay in resumption of regular scheduled international flights, 8-10 million passengers are expected to fly internationally, compared with its earlier estimate of 10-15 million. The consultancy said in its report that although foreign business travellers and OCI holders are once again permitted to enter the country, India remains closed to leisure visitors, VFR (visiting friends and relatives) travellers (unless they are NRIs or hold OCIs) and medical tourists. “Only 60% of the pre-COVID traffic is actually allowed to enter the country from a border control perspective. Of which the majority is expected to defer travel given the risks and inconvenience associated with international travel at present,” it noted.

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