The international passenger flight services in the country will resume in a phased manner during 'Unlock 2.0', the ministry of home affairs said in a statement on Monday. In the wake of coronavirus outbreak, India suspended all the domestic and international flight services in the last week of March. While the domestic flights have started operations in limited routes after a gap of two months, the international flight services will remain suspended till July 15.
The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) earlier mentioned "international scheduled flights may be allowed on selected routes on a case-to-case basis." The DGCA order had come after several countries such as the United Kingdom, France urged the Indian government for allowing Air India to carry outbound passengers from India on its flights meant to repatriate Indian citizens from those countries.
To bring back the stranded Indians across the world, the central government started Vande Bharat Mission on May 6. In the first three phases of the Vande Bharat Mission, around 875 international flights were scheduled for operation from over 50 countries across 5 continents. Nearly 1,25,000 Indians have returned from different countries, the civil aviation minister Hardeep Singh Puri said earlier.
"International air travel of passengers has been permitted in a limited manner under the Vande Bharat mission. Further opening up will take place in a calibrated manner," the central government said in a statement.
Earlier, the civil aviation minister said that re-commencement of international flight services will depend on factors like 'border acceptance' norms in the arriving country and the traffic demand. He also hinted at the prospects of bilateral bubble arrangements, which will allow some international operations between countries.
In a relief to the airlines, the civil aviation ministry allowed the companies to fly up to 45% of the pre-COVID-19 capacity on domestic routes. The domestic airlines have ferried close to two million passengers in a resuming service on May 25, a senior government official said.
Last week, the Supreme Court clarified that that there is no need to keep middle seat vacant in the flights. The apex court upheld the Bombay High Court order that had permitted all flight operators to allow passengers to occupy middle seats in flights. However, the airlines should strictly comply with guidelines of aviation regulator on measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the top court said.