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Come December 15, India will resume scheduled international flights

File photo of a passsenger flight service for representation.

File photo of a passsenger flight service for representation.

India will resume international flights to all countries from December 15, after a gap of 20 months, though there will be restrictions on the number of flights permitted from a country depending on its health risk status.

Key destinations for Indians such as U.S., Canada, Australia, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, and Sri Lanka are permitted to have 100% of pre-COVID capacity. Europe and countries like Singapore will be allowed 75% of pre-COVID flights, while China and Hong Kong will be allowed 50% of pre-COVID flights. India has air-service pacts with at least 109 countries.

 

The decision, however, comes even as several countries are tightening travel restrictions after a new coronavirus variant has been identified in South Africa.

Fares likely to drop

The announcement is likely to result in a fall in airfares on key routes, as well as allow travellers to take via flights, which was banned under the air bubble arrangements India signed with 31 countries as an interim measure.

“Due to prevailing COVID-19 situation, the capacity entitlements shall be as per the category of countries based on enlistment of countries as at-risk from time to time by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare,” the Ministry of Civil Aviation said in an order issued on Friday.

 

It further added that countries outside the “at-risk” list will be allowed 100% of pre-COVID flights. Countries in the “at-risk” list, but with whom India has an air-bubble will be allowed 75% of pre-COVID flights, while those with which India doesn’t have air-bubbles will be allowed 50% of pre-pandemic flights.

The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on Friday identified 11 countries as well as all of Europe as “at risk”. These 11 countries are South Africa, Brazil, Bangladesh, Botswana, China, Mauritius, New Zealand, Zimbabwe, Singapore, Hong Kong, Israel.

“In a market that is bursting with pent-up demand for international travel, and a tourism industry that has been starved of revenue, the opening up of our international travel routes is exactly the timely intervention that was required to give a boost to the millions of Indians who are dependent on this sector for their livelihood,” said Subhash Goyal, chairman STIC Travels.

“We welcome the resumption of flights under the bilateral agreements for many countries. There has to be some re-planning and re-scheduling by the airlines and this will take a day or two, perhaps longer for foreign carriers. Until the competitive situation on each route becomes clear it is difficult to predict the fare trajectory. In general though, more capacity is, of course, good news for the customers,” Willy Boulter, Chief Commercial Officer, IndiGo told The Hindu .

Several international carriers also welcomed India’s decision to revert to “bilaterally agreed capacity” as air-bubbles with selective countries had led to fears among airlines and in diplomatic circles that India was trying to revise bilateral agreements without negotiations.

“Demand for international flights to and from India remains high. The Lufthansa Airline and Swiss International Airlines, both part of Lufthansa Group, are looking forward to serve Indian customers with an increasing number of flights as quickly as possible. As one of the first countries in Asia to open up, India will have a clear advantage in recovering from the pandemic,” said George Ettiyil, Senior Director Sales for Lufthansa Group Airlines, South Asia.


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Printable version | May 24, 2022 3:21:11 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/india-will-permit-international-flights-from-all-countries-from-december-15/article37705204.ece