The Directorate General of Civil Aviation on Thursday said that international passenger flights will remain banned till February 28, in view of the coronavirus pandemic. The restrictions will, however, not be applicable on cargo flights and those specifically approved by the DGCA.

India had grounded both domestic and international flights, as part of its nationwide lockdown announced in March. However, since June, the government allowed limited operations of Air India flights under the “Vande Bharat” mission for certain categories of Overseas Citizenship of India, Persons of Indian Origin card-holders and other Indians who were stuck abroad due to the pandemic. The Centre had allowed domestic flight services to resume on May 25, but at only one-third of its capacity. The cap was later increased to 45% and then to 60%.

Since July, the government also started setting up “air bubble” arrangements with selected countries. Currently, India has such arrangements with 23 nations, according to PTI.

On Wednesday, the home ministry in its fresh guidelines for Covid-related protocols had said that a decision on further opening up of international air travel will be taken after consultation with the civil aviation ministry.

Meanwhile, India reported 11,666 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, taking the overall count to 1,07,01,193. The country’s toll rose by 123 to 1,53,847. The number of active cases stood at 1,73,740, while more than 25 lakh people have been vaccinated so far.

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