India's international flights expected to return by Q1 2021

A ban on regular, scheduled international air travel to and from the country has been extended to October 31

International flights from India are expected to be fully operational by the first quarter of 2021, according to the country’s Minister of Civil Aviation, Hardeep Singh Puri.

It comes as India extended a ban on regular, scheduled international air travel until October 31.

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In a report by UAE’s state-run WAM news agency, Puri anticipated the number of domestic flights and passengers would reach pre-Covid-19 levels between the national festival season next month and the new year.

“Domestic aviation is continuing on a steady growth trajectory. We should touch pre-Covid figures between Diwali and the New Year,” he said. Diwali is one of India’s biggest festivals and falls in mid-November.

Domestic flights in India were suspended on March 23 as part of a lockdown in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. Flights have resumed in a graduated manner from May 25. As of October 2, 1,536 flights have carried 176,601 domestic passengers, Puri revealed.

Full resumption of international flights will depend on the virus situation in the country, Puri said. “I cannot anticipate whether other countries will allow in people from India. We have gone ahead and made the best out of a very difficult situation, navigated through turbulence.”

Pending resumption of scheduled international air travel, India has air bubbles with 16 countries, including the UAE, with a few more under negotiation. Air bubbles are temporary flying arrangements between two countries aimed at restarting commercial passenger services, suspended as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Sunil Kumar, Deputy Director General of Civil Aviation, said that repatriation flights and some other services will be allowed by the government on a case-by-case basis, despite the extended ban on scheduled international commercial passenger services to and from India until the end of this month.

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