The Indian Central Government today extended the ban on international commercial flights till June 30, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) said in a circular. The ban on scheduled overseas flights was to end on May 31 after a 14-month gap.
However, it said that the COVID-related restrictions will not apply to international all-cargo operations and flights specifically approved by the DGCA.
"In partial modification of circular dated 26-06-2020, the competent authority has further extended the validity of circular issued on the subject cited above regarding Scheduled International commercial passenger services to/from India till 2359 hrs 1ST of 30th June, 2021," the DGCA circular read.
"However, international scheduled flights may be allowed on selected routes by the competent authority on case to case basis," it added.
Scheduled international passenger services have been suspended in India since March 23, 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But special international flights have been operating under the Vande Bharat Mission since May last year, and under bilateral "air bubble" arrangements with selected countries since July.
The country currently has bilateral air bubble agreements with around 28 countries, which include -- Afghanistan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Canada, Ethiopia, France, Germany, Iraq, Japan, Kenya, Kuwait, the Maldives, Nepal, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Oman, Qatar, Rwanda, Seychelles, Tanzania, Ukraine, the UAE, the UK, Uzbekistan and the US.
However, several nations have banned or imposed restrictions on flights from and to India due to the rise in the number of Covid-19 cases in the country.
Countries including Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Iran, Italy, Kuwait, New Zealand, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Singapore and UAE had earlier in April banned travel to and from India due to a surge in coronavirus infections as a result of the second Covid wave in the country.
However, few of these countries have since then lifted such travel restrictions to and from India.
Meanwhile, the single-day rise in Covid-19 cases in India fell below the 2-lakh mark for the second time this month taking the total caseload to 2,75,55,457, according to the Union Health Ministry data updated on Friday.
A total of 1,86,364 new coronavirus infections were reported in a day, the lowest in around 44 days, while the death toll climbed to 3,18,895 with 3,660 daily deaths, the data updated at 8 am showed.