The civil aviation ministry on Wednesday said that India will resume regular international flights, which have remained suspended owing to the Covid pandemic, towards the end of the year. The government has been allowing commercial international flights on a case-to-case basis.
Recently, civil aviation minister Jyotiraditya Scindia said the government is keen to resume normal international travel operations and is evaluating the process. “We are evaluating the process. We are coming back to normalcy. First, we allowed 100% passenger capacity in our domestic flights and now we allowed in-flight meals in those flights,” Scindia said at the Confederation of Indian Industry’s (CII’s) Global Economy Policy Summit.
The announcement comes as a major relief to the aviation industry as well as the tourism industry both of which have seen major losses due to Covid-19 and still continue to face challenges as infections continue to rise rapidly in some parts of the world. The recent rise of cases in Europe will also adversely affect the tourism industry as governments impose restrictions.
Earlier, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) extended the ban on scheduled international commercial passenger flights until November 30 allowing only international scheduled flights on selected routes by the competent authority on a case to case basis and allowing cargo flights.
Experts still feel that India’s aviation industry is not yet out of the woods as tourism is yet to regain its pre-pandemic levels. Air Vistara earlier this month said the prolonged suspension of scheduled international flights to and from India is hurting the financial prospects of most airlines.
“A prolonged suspension of scheduled international operations is definitely impacting the financial health of most airlines, thereby adding to the pressure (on the revenue),” Vistara CEO-designate Vinod Kannan was quoted as saying by news agency PTI. He said the situation is still unpredictable and dynamic.
Following the fall in the number of cases, domestic passenger traffic has risen and airports across India’s major cities also saw a rise in footfall. Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport (CSMIA) saw a four-fold growth in passenger traffic in August. Civil aviation secretary Rajeev Bansal says that the government is expecting domestic passenger traffic to go back to pre-Covid levels starting April 2022.