International flight services in India: Uncertainty looms as Coronavirus cases continue to surge

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Published: July 7, 2020 6:01 PM

With the country getting the tag of world's third largest affected country, it might prove to be a difficult task for the Indian authorities to establish the air bridges with other countries.

The fears are worsening more so after India became the third largest affected country in terms of Coronavirus cases after the U.S and Brazil.

With coronavirus cases surging in India, are international flight services likely to resume? This question looms large as India is tackling a surge in COVID-19 cases. Three months have passed since the Indian airline industry came to a grounding halt, but still the resumption of the international flights seems distant and uncertain as the number of positive Coronavirus cases surge consistently in the country. Even if the Indian government allows the airlines to operate overseas, other nations around the world are unlikely to allow flights from India enter their borders as the cases are consistently surging.

The fears are worsening more so after India became the third largest affected country in terms of Coronavirus cases after the U.S and Brazil. While some international flights are being operated as part of the repatriation mission to bring back Indians stuck in different parts of the world, the government is also in talks to establish air bridges with countries like the U.S, Canada and some other European countries, according to a report by the Indian Express. After the establishment of air bridges between the two countries the citizens of both the countries will be allowed to travel to and from the other country.

The main hurdle in establishing the air bridge or air bubble with other countries is the perception in the mind of the policymakers about the country’s capability of handling Covid -19. For instance, New Zealand which has been able to control the spread of Coronavirus has established the Tasmanian air bridge with other countries which have had similar success in containing the spread of the infections. In a similar manner, Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia have also established air bridge amongst the three nations for the movement of people of these countries with no restrictions at all.

As far as India’s perception is concerned, after the initial slow growth in the number of Coronavirus cases, the country has recorded a consistent increase in the cases. With the country getting the tag of world’s third largest affected country, it might prove to be a difficult task for the Indian authorities to establish the air bridges with other countries. Meanwhile, a group of 27 European Union countries has allowed the air travel from 14 countries passengers from where will be allowed to travel for non-essential purposes as well. Britain has issued another list of 59 jurisdictions from where air travel will be allowed. Both the EU as well as the Britain list have not included India.

The impact of the resumption of domestic flights is already seen to be taking a toll on some cities. Recently, the Ministry of Civil Aviation, on the request of the West Bengal government, suspended the domestic flights from cities like Delhi, Ahmedabad, Mumbai, Nagpur and Chennai to Kolkata airport for a period of two weeks starting from July 6 to July 19. The sudden increase in the number of Coronavirus cases in states like Karnataka and Telangana might also make other states wary of receiving flights from these states. Both Karnataka and Telangana have recorded close to 10,000 positive cases in the last week alone.

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