The Centre on Wednesday decided to postpone the resumption of scheduled international flights from December 15 citing “evolving global scenario” in the wake of the Omicron threat. The government will announce a new date later.
Announced by Aviation regulator DGCA, the new order, however, won’t affect the current flights that are operating as it is only for the complete resumption that has now been postponed.
Last month, the Centre decided to normalise international flight operations, which remained suspended from March 2020.
DGCA further said that the air bubble arrangement that India has with several countries should remain intact.
“In view of the merging global scenario… the situation is being watched closely in consultation with all stakeholders and an appropriate decision indicating the effective date of resumption of scheduled commercial international passenger services shall be notified in due course,” stated a note from the DGCA.
The emergence of the new Covid variant, Omicron, first found in southern Africa has sparked a global alarm, with several countries shutting borders and imposing travel restrictions. The WHO has recently designated Omicron as a ‘variant of concern’, saying that it would take quite some time to accurately gauge its level of severity.
Several states such as Maharashtra, Kerala, Karnataka, have also clamped restrictions on foreign passengers arriving from South Africa and neighbouring nations. Maharashtra imposed mandatory 14-day isolation for all international passengers. Karnataka, meanwhile, instructed authorities to increase surveillance at Kerala border districts. It also stressed mandatory RT-PCR tests for those arriving from Maharashtra, Kerala.
The Centre on November 28 revised the travel guidelines for international passengers and mandated Covid testing for travellers from ‘countries at-risk’ post-arrival. Travellers from 12 ‘countries at-risk’ will also need to take the Covid test post-arrival and wait for results at the airport.
The nations that are currently on the ‘at-risk’ list of India are European countries, including the UK, South Africa, Brazil, Botswana, China, Mauritius, New Zealand, Zimbabwe, Singapore, Hong Kong and Israel.