India bans international flights till July 31, DGCA to allow some planes on select routes

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In the wake of coronavirus outbreak, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) today has decided to suspend all the international flight operations in the country till July 31. Earlier, the aviation regulator had cancelled the international flights till July 15. However, the DGCA may permit international flights on some selected routes during this period. “The international scheduled flights may be allowed on select routes on case-to-case basis,” said the aviation regulator.

India suspended all the domestic and international flight services in the last week of March. The domestic flights have started operations in limited routes after a gap of two months in May. The domestic airlines have ferried close to two million passengers since then, a senior government official earlier said.

The international passenger flight services in the country will resume in a phased manner during ‘Unlock 2.0‘, the ministry of home affairs said on Monday. “International air travel of passengers has been permitted in a limited manner under the Vande Bharat mission. Further opening up will take place in a calibrated manner,” the central government said in a statement.

To bring back the stranded Indians from across the world, the central government started Vande Bharat Mission on May 7. Air India and several other private domestic airlines have been operating flights under this repatriation mission. Over 4.75 lakh Indians have returned to India from abroad since it has started, the ministry of external affairs said on Thursday.

“As on July 1, against a total number of 5,83,109 people who registered their requests with our missions abroad for repatriation to India, over 4,75,000 have returned under this mission,” ministry of external affairs Anurag Srivastava said.

The Vande Bharat Mission has entered its fourth phase from Thursday onwards. “Under Phase-IV of the Vande Bharat Mission, we will be operating more than 500 flights. This includes both Air India and private carriers who are ramping up their operations in a big way,” Srivastava said.

In a tweet, the civil aviation Ministry said, “Private Airlines will have significant participation in Phase-4 of VBM. Among others, IndiGo will operate 238 flights from Qatar & 219 flights from Kuwait; while GoAir will operate 41 flights from Kuwait. Number of pvt carriers, flights & destinations likely to increase.”

Under the fourth phase of the mission, Air India will send 114 flights to 17 countries across the world. These countries are Canada, the US, the UK, Kenya, Sri Lanka, Philippines, Kyrgyzstan, Saudi Arabia, Bangladesh, Thailand, South Africa, Russia, Australia, Myanmar, Japan, Ukraine and Vietnam.

VFS Global, a visa outsourcing and technology services provider for governments and diplomatic missions worldwide, is all set to resume visa application services in India. Travellers will be able to apply for specific visa categories for Belarus, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ireland, Italy, Norway, Portugal, South Korea, Turkey, UAE, and United Kingdom.