NEW DELHI: The Ministry of Civil Aviation on Friday announced the resumption of scheduled international flights to and from India from December 15. However, the ministry said certain restrictions would apply to countries based on their risk assessment and air-bubble deals.
Countries categorised as at-risk and having air bubble agreement with India would resume 75 per cent of pre-COVID scheduled international flights or a minimum of seven frequencies a week, whichever is higher. Countries under the at-risk category include the UK, South Africa, Brazil, Bangladesh, Botswana, China, Mauritius, New Zealand, Zimbabwe, Singapore and Hong Kong.
An order issued by the civil aviation ministry said the decision was taken after consultations with the Ministry of Home Affairs, the Ministry of External Affairs and the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. Resumption of international passenger services would imply reversion to bilaterally-agreed capacity and termination of the air bubble arrangements.
Countries identified as not 'at-risk' by the Health Ministry would get full capacity entitlements according to the bilateral air service agreements. For a country identified as 'at-risk' and not having an air-bubble agreement, only 50 per cent of bilateral capacity entitlements or 50 per cent of pre-COVID operations, whichever is higher, would be permitted.
Bilateral air service agreements are signed between countries to operate scheduled passenger flights. This determines the number of airlines, ports of entries and total flights weekly that can be allowed. Under air bubble agreements, airlines of two countries operate special flights under certain restrictions.
"The seats under air bubble arrangement that have already been sold by airlines, which are more than the capacity entitlements under bilateral air service agreements, will be allowed to be operated till December 14, 2021," the aviation ministry said, adding such airlines would restrict their operations to capacity entitlements enter bilateral air service agreements with effect from December 15.