New Delhi: India now aims to resume normal international flights on December 15, with the exclusion of a few countries, After a long period of imposed air travel restrictions.

In a statement, the Civil Aviation Ministry stated that the issue of resuming scheduled commercial international passenger services had been discussed with the Ministries of Home Affairs, External Affairs, and Health and Family Welfare.

According to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), nations recognised as “at-risk” by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare have been classified into three categories, each with its own capacity travel limitations.

The United Kingdom, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Finland, South Africa, Brazil, Bangladesh, Botswana, China, Mauritius, New Zealand, Zimbabwe, and Singapore are among the nations that will not have regular commercial international flights for the foreseeable future.

New Covid-19 Variant

In light of the global Covid-19 scenario, notably the emergence of a novel coronavirus type, the decision to prohibit 14 nations was apparently taken in consultation with the Union Health Ministry.

On Thursday, South Africa discovered a new strain of Coronavirus that is expected to be more transmissible and vaccine-resistant.

In addition to South Africa, the variation has been found in Botswana and Hong Kong. India has decided not to resume regular international flights to Botswana and South Africa in this respect.

Following the discovery of a novel Coronavirus strain in South Africa, the World Health Organization has encouraged states to impose “risk-based” travel limits.

International Flights Halted Since March 2020

Regular international airline operations were interrupted in March 2020 due to the Coronavirus pandemic. The civil aviation ministry organised Vande Bharat flights to transfer Indians who were trapped in foreign countries owing to the pandemic.

Following the Vande Bharat flights, the Ministry of Civil Aviation inked air bubble agreements with a number of countries, allowing for international travel.

With the number of Covid cases steadily dropping and vaccine coverage improving in the country, the Centre was contemplating relaxing international travel restrictions.

Rajiv Bansal, the Civil Aviation Secretary, declared two days ago that the ministry is trying to enable international flights before the end of the year.