Flights between India and the United Kingdom, suspended since December 23 to check transmission of the new, more contagious strain of the novel coronavirus detected in that country, will resume on January 8, the government said on Friday evening.
There will be only 15 flights per week for the first two weeks, the government said.
Twenty-nine samples have so far tested positive for the UK variant of SARS-CoV-2 in India, the Union Health Ministry said on Friday.
“It has been decided that flights between India & the UK will resume from 8 Jan 2021. Operations till 23 Jan will be restricted to 15 flights per week each for carriers of the two countries to & from Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru & Hyderabad only. DGCA will issue the details shortly,” Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri posted on Twitter.
The formal order announcing the resumption of flights will be issued late on Friday or early on Saturday, a senior official at the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) said. The regulator was waiting for inputs from the Health Ministry on the guidelines to be issued to airports and airlines, the official said. Mandatory RT-PCR testing is likely to be a requirement for everyone arriving from the UK.
Flights were initially suspended until December 31, and the suspension was then extended until January 7. The 15 weekly flights that will be allowed between January 8 and January 23 is less than a fourth of the over 60 that connected airports in the UK – mainly London – with Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Chennai, Bengaluru, Amritsar, Ahmedabad, Kochi, Goa, etc. every week earlier.
Apart from the UK, the new strain has been found in several countries including the US, Canada, Singapore, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Japan, South Korea, and China. Flights between India and these countries continue to operate.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines