The Director General of Civil Aviation on Thursday extended the ban on international flights till December 31 in view of the outbreak of the coronavirus. On October 28, the DGCA had extended the suspension of flights till November 30.

“...the competent authority has further extended the validity of circular issued on the subject cited above regarding Scheduled International commercial passengers services to/from India till 2359 hrs IST [Indian Standard Time] of 31st December,” the government’s circular read.

However, it added that international scheduled flights may be allowed on certain routes by the competent authority on a case-to-case basis.

India has established air bubbles with about 18 countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, France, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and the Maldives, Kenya and Bhutan. This pact allows the operation of special flights between the countries.

India instituted a lockdown in the end of March, which also included grounding both domestic and international flights. However, since June, the government allowed limited operations of Air India flights under the “Vande Bharat” mission for certain categories such as Overseas Citizenship of India, Persons of Indian Origin card-holders and other Indians who were stuck abroad due to the pandemic.

The Centre has also allowed domestic flight services to resume on May 25, but at only one-third capacity. The cap was later increased to 45% and then to 60%.

India’s Covid-19 case count on Thursday reached 92,66,705 with 44,489 new infections recorded in 24 hours. There are 4,52,344 active cases and 8,67,9,138 recoveries, while the toll went up by 524 to 1,35,223.

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