NEW DELHI: The government on Friday extended the ban on international passenger flights until midnight of August 31, 2021, as per the circular issued by the top aviation regulator the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).

The DGCA, in its latest circular, said, “the flight ban shall remain in place till 2359 hrs Indian Standard Time (IST) of August 31, 2021. However, it shall not apply to cargo flights and those approved by the regulatory body.”

“This restriction shall not apply to international all-cargo operations and flights specifically approved by DGCA. However. International scheduled flights may be allowed on select routes by the competent authority on a case-to-case basis” the circular noted. 



All scheduled international flights to and from India were banned from March 23 last year in wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The restrictions on international commercial flights were supposed to end on July 31, 2021. 

The decision comes amid the threat of a looming third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic and the emergence of the Delta variant of the virus in several countries. 

Despite the broader restrictions on international travel, certain flights were allowed to operate subsequently to repatriate stranded citizens or eligible cases.

Though scheduled international passenger services were suspended in India since March 23, 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, special international flights have been operating under the Vande Bharat Mission since May 2020, and under bilateral “air bubble” arrangements with select countries since July 2020.

The Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) has formed air bubble pacts with around 27 countries including Afghanistan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Canada, Ethiopia, France, Germany, Iraq, Japan, Kenya, Kuwait, Maldives, Nepal, Netherlands, Nigeria, Oman, Qatar, Russia, Rwanda, Seychelles, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States of America and Uzbekistan.

Under an air bubble pact between two countries, special international flights can be operated by their airlines between their territories.

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