The Directorate General of Civil Aviation on Friday extended the suspension on international passenger flights till June 30. In a circular, it added that the restrictions will not apply to international all-cargo operations and flights specifically approved by the aviation regulator.

“However, international scheduled flights may be allowed on selected routes by the competent authority on a case-to-case basis,” the civil aviation authority added in its order dated May 28.

India had grounded both domestic and international flights as part of its nationwide lockdown announced in March last year. However, since June 2020, 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, 2020.

Since July, the government also started setting up “air bubble” arrangements with selected countries. Currently, India has air bubble pacts with at least 27 countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, the United Arab Emirates, Kenya, Bhutan and France, according to News18. Under the pact, special international flights can be operated by the airlines between the two countries.

India is currently reeling from the impact of the second wave of the coronavirus. Several countries have banned flights to and from India under the air bubble pacts till the situation improves.

On Friday, India reported 1,86,364 new coronavirus cases in 24 hours, taking the overall tally to 2,75,55,457 since the pandemic first broke out in January 2020. The toll rose by 3,660 to 31,88,95, while the active caseload stood at 23,43,152.

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