|Pandemic has brought unprecedented crises and led the world to a halt. Finally, after a gap of two years, regular scheduled international flights started in India today, i.e 27th March 2022. In the meantime, it is pertinent to note that the international flights had been operating in an “air bubble” arrangement with several nations.
A total of 60 foreign airlines of 40 countries including Mauritius, Malaysia, Thailand, Turkey, the USA, Iraq and others have been given the approval to operate 1783 frequencies to/from India during Summer schedule 2022.
Asserting that the big move of resuming international flights will help India connect to the world, Union Minister for Civil Aviation Jyotiraditya M. Scindia said, “International flight services have resumed today. 135 new flights have been inaugurated under Summer Schedule 2022. A flight between Gorakhpur-Varanasi has also been inaugurated today.”
Main highlights to this story:
- From Sunday, i.e 27th March 2022, all international flights will operate at 100% capacity. Since March 2020, the government announced a ban on international flights, that stretched for a total of two years. A total of 60 foreign airlines of 40 countries have been given the approval to operate 1783 flights to and from India.
- With the international flights resuming, the new rules by the ministry of civil aviation stated that the cabin crew members are no longer needed to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) kits and security personnel at airports can resume pat-down search of passengers, wherever needed.
- The government further announced that airlines also need not keep three seats vacant on international flights for medical emergencies.
- The guidelines further stated that airlines may carry a few additional PPE protective gears, sanitiser and N-95 masks, to handle any respiratory infections related to cases on air, for passengers as well as the crew. Although, it is mentioned that wearing masks and use of sanitiser is still mandatory.
- Regarding visas, the government stated that currently valid e-tourist visas issued for five years shall stand restored to nationals of 156 countries with immediate effect.
- “Air bubble” arrangement – a special international flight operation was started between India and other countries back in July 2020.
- It is no hidden fact that pandemic induced lockdown has created havoc for the hospitality and tourism sector and the big move of resuming international flights is been expected to give a big boost to these sectors.
- It is worth mentioning that the decision to resume flights was delayed due to the Russia-Ukraine conflict which began on 24th February. ‘Operation Ganga’ – a massive operation was initiated to bring back thousands of Indian students stranded in the war-hit zone.
- Earlier this month, Union Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia told parliament that the aviation industry was witnessing domestic air traffic close to pre-pandemic levels. “So, we are very well on our way back to recovery, roughly about 5 to 6% off from pre-Covid levels. But then Omicron came along, and we had wave 3. And again, I am pleased to report to the House today that as of yesterday’s numbers, after going down to almost about 160,000 passengers a day in wave 3 from the pre-Covid level of 400,000 and post Covid-2 level of 383,000, we reached the number of roughly about 380,000 passengers per day,” he said.