Notably, the passenger air services were suspended in March 2020, owing to the outbreak of COVID
After a gap of about twenty months, India is all set to resume international passenger air services from December 15, 2021, informed the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on Friday. Additionally, as per the revised guidelines issued by the Union Health Ministry passengers need to submit 14 days travel details and upload a negative RT-PCR test report on Air Suvidha Portal before the journey. This announcement comes in time Omicron strain of COVID has been identified in South Africa recently.
Services to resume sequentially from 'at risk' countries
Notably, the passenger air services were suspended since March 2020 owing to the outbreak of COVID. Reportedly, this new and more transmissible variant of the novel coronavirus which contains around 30 identified mutations has been reported in Hong Kong as well. According to the officials, the new guidelines issued for international arrivals in India will be effective from December 1.
According to the officials, there will be a sequential resumption of operations from the countries recognised as "at risk" by the Health Ministry. At present, more than ten nations are marked in the "at risk" list including countries in Europe, South Africa, Brazil, Bangladesh, Botswana and China among others.
In a circular issued by the DGCA said, "The matter has been reviewed and the competent authority has decided to resume the scheduled commercial international passenger services to/from India with effect from 15 December, 2021. Accordingly, the scheduled international commercial passenger services to/ from India shall remain suspended till 2359 hours IST of 14 December, 2021."
Resumption of services to terminate Air Bubble Agreement
While the domestic flights were resumed from May 25, last year, the international flight services were partially unlocked upon a 'Bubble Agreement'. Significantly, India has active air bubble pacts with twenty-eight countries at present. However, as per the DGCA circular, the resumption of these services would lead to the reversion of bilaterally agreed capacity entitlements and termination of air bubble arrangements. Additionally, in line with the ongoing pandemic, the capacity entitlements will be based on the timely enlistment of countries "at-risk" by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
The circular read, "The seats under air bubble arrangement which have already been sold by airlines, which are in excess of the capacity entitlements under bilateral ASAs or traffic rights available with the airlines, will be allowed to be operated till December 14, 2021."
"Such airlines will restrict their operations to capacity entitlements under bilateral ASAs or traffic rights available with the airlines, with effect from December 15, 2021", read the circular further.