India Announces Resumption of International Flights

From March 27, all airlines will be permitted to operate passenger services at pre-Covid frequencies.

Amer Fort in Rajasthan, India. (Photo: Meriç Dağlı/Unsplash)

Traveling to and from India is about to become easier and more affordable, as the government repeals its pandemic-related ban on scheduled international flights just before the northern summer season. The country’s Ministry of Civil Aviation said the decision was made in light of the increase of vaccination coverage across the globe and declining coronavirus caseloads. Since July 2020, India has allowed limited numbers of passenger flights under bilateral “air bubble” arrangements made with 37 nations, including Canada, Singapore, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Aviation minister Jyotiraditya Scindia tweeted that the air bubbles would be revoked at midnight on March 27.

New Delhi will lift the restrictions almost exactly two years after imposing a wholesale suspension of regular flights, which took effect on March 23, 2020. The government had initially hoped to resume commercial services in mid-December last year, but shelved those plans as the Omicron variant spread rapidly across the globe. With increased connectivity and more choice for travelers, the cost of international airfares is expected to drop significantly; capacity constraints due to India’s air bubble arrangements caused tickets to triple or even quadruple in price on popular routes.

India’s borders have already reopened to foreign visitors. Last month, the country rolled back self-isolation rules for all fully vaccinated arrivals, replacing seven-day mandatory quarantines with 14 days of self-monitoring. International travelers are no longer required to take a pre-departure PCR test within 72 hours of travel, so long as they upload a vaccination certificate and a health declaration form through the Air Suvidha portal before their trip.

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