The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DCGA) announced on Thursday, December 9, that the ban on regular international flights would be extended until January 31, 2022.
The government had earlier announced that all planned passenger flights will resume on December 15, but the decision was later placed on hold due to rising concerns over the Omicron variant.
A circular issued by the aviation regulator, Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), said “The competent authority has decided to extend the suspension of scheduled international commercial passenger services to/from India till 23:59 hrs of 31st January, 2022.”
However, the circular stated that foreign scheduled flights on specific routes may be permitted on a case-by-case basis.
Special international flights, on the other hand, have been operating since May 2020 as part of the Vande Bharat Mission, and since July 2020 as part of bilateral 'air bubble' agreements with chosen countries. Special international flights can be operated by their airlines between their territory with specified limits under an air-bubble accord between two countries. India has signed air-bubble agreements with 31 countries.
These restrictions do not apply to international all-cargo operations or flights that the DGCA has specifically approved.
India has identified the United Kingdom, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Finland, South Africa, Brazil, Bangladesh, Botswana, China, Mauritius, New Zealand, Iran, Tanzania and Zimbabwe as 'at-risk' countries. On December 9, Singapore was removed off the list of "at-risk" countries.
According to the Health Ministry's guidelines, all travellers arriving from these countries are required to do an RT-PCR test, while 2% of travellers arriving from other countries are randomly tested.