The aviation regulation DGCA on Thursday issued a fresh circular saying that all commercial flight operations to and from India will remain suspended until the further order. According to news agency ANI, the Director General of Civil Aviation said that the order will remain in force till December 31st. This means that no commercial flight will be allowed to land or take off from India. However, there is a caveat in the new DGCA order. Global cargo flights and those with special approval from the DGCA will be allowed to operate, the circular said. On a case-specific basis, specially scheduled flights on the international routes may be allowed, the order added. Such flights would need a nod from the officials concerned.
The Thursday order is an extension of the DGCA’s October order that had put the ban on the commercial flight operations in India. Since March 23, normal aviation activities remain suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic. So far, the Narendra Modi government has been running special flights under the Vande Bharat Mission to bring back those stranded abroad due to lockdowns in other parts of the world. From May on, flights under the Vande Bharat Mission have brought back scores of students, traders and others. The Vande Bharat flights are being operated under specific ‘air bubble’ pacts between India and other nations. Only selected nations have such ‘air bubble’ agreements with India.
Due to the stringent Covid-19 restrictions, India has signed special arrangements with selected countries such as Kenya, France, the UK and the US for the flight operations. In total, there are 18 countries with which India has signed the ‘air bubble’ pacts. While the international flight operations remained suspended, the domestic sector has witnessed a steady rise in the number of fliers. As part of the ‘Unlock’ strategy, the Modi government had allowed the resumption of domestic flights from May 25. It was after the stringent 2-month lockdown that the domestic flights had resumed operations. Internationally, the aviation sector is the worst-hit due to coronavirus pandemic. While major players have tried to bring back the fliers with the assurance of safety and regular sanitisation, the ground reality is lesser number of taking flights. The main reason is the increased risk of contracting coronavirus during the flights.