India may restart regular international flights from March 1

India may resume international flight operations from 1st March 2022, reports said.

An inter-ministerial committee of officials from the ministries of home affairs, health and family welfare, civil aviation and the director-general of civil aviation (DGCA) will meet this week to take a decision on this matter, Moneycontrol reported quoting sources.

After analyzing the Covid situation in the country the authorities will determine whether it is appropriate to resume the international flights from March 1, officials said.

As the officials from the DGCA and the civil aviation ministry are in favor of lifting the ban, the onus is on the ministry of health and family welfare to take final decision on this matter. The ministry of health and family welfare is closely monitoring the Covid- 19 situation in the country.

“The decision is yet to be taken by health ministry officials as some states with a high inflow of international traffic are still showing a rise in COVID-19 cases,” a government official said.

Civil aviation ministry and DGCA officials are also scheduled to meet senior officials from the domestic and international airlines this week after the inter-ministerial meeting to discuss measures to ensure smooth transition of restarting international flights and to discuss increasing frequency of flights under air bubble agreements, officials said.

“If the health ministry does not give a go-ahead, the ministry will discuss with airlines the need to increase the frequency of flights under air-bubble agreements as well,” one official said.

The civil aviation ministry is keen to restart international operations soon as domestic airline capacity in India has recovered well after the third wave of COVID-19. They are currently operating at around 85 percent of pre-pandemic levels, officials said.

The ban on scheduled international passenger flights has been in place in India since March 23, 2020. However, special passenger flights have been operating between India and approximately 40 countries since July 2020 under air-bubble arrangements.

As of now, India has air transport bubbles with 40 countries, including Canada, France, Germany, United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, and the US.