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From Flight Bans to Putting India in Red Zone, All You Need To Know About International Air Travel

Arjit Garg
·6-min read

As the second wave of COVID-19 hits the Indian shore, the cases have reached an all-time high, forcing various state governments to announce weekend and night lockdowns. Few states like Delhi and Maharashtra have gone a step ahead to announce a full lockdown. Amidst all this chaos, India’s aviation industry, battered by the 2020 slowdown has taken yet another hit. As per data shared by the Ministry of Civil Aviation, the average daily footfall of domestic passengers has fallen below 2 Lakh passengers for the first time since the flights were re-opened on May 25.

While domestic flights still continue to operate in a calibrated manner, the impending fear of international air travel closing once again is looming over flyers. India announced to stop all scheduled international commercial flights in March last year and since then, regular operations have not started. While India did undertake the world’s largest repatriation drive under Mission Vande Bharat, simultaneously, our government also announced bilateral pacts with various countries to ease international travelling.

This, however, doesn’t stand true anymore. Many countries, including the UK, Hong Kong, Canada and Singapore have announced a ban on flights from India. On the other hand, countries like the US, Germany has issued a travel advisory to all passengers flying in and out of India. We look at all the countries to where you can take an international flight and also the countries announcing restrictions.

[q]WHICH COUNTRIES HAVE RESTRICTED FLIGHTS FROM INDIA?[/q]

[ans]Ever since the caseload of COVID-19 patients has increased due to the second wave, many countries have announced restrictions on flights from India. Here’s a list:

HONG KONG

– While India doesn’t have an air bubble agreement with Hong Kong, many flights were operated as part of Mission Vande Bharat to repatriate stranded Indians. However, Hong Kong has suspended all flights connecting it with India till May 3. The Hong Kong government’s decision came after 50 passengers of two Vistara flights this month were found positive for COVID-19 when tested on arrival. According to rules, all passengers who want to come to Hong Kong need to have a COVID-negative RTPCR result with them from a test done 72 hours prior to the journey.

UNITED KINGDOM

– While earlier India announced a ban on flights from the UK due to a mutant COVID-19 strain, now UK has announced a ban on flights from India due to the rising cases and also the fact that 7 Indians have been found with the mutant COVID-19 strain. UK has put India on the red list. Following the same, Air India has suspended all flights to/from the UK till April 30, 2021.

DUBAI

– As per the new rules, passengers, both Indians and International who have visited India will not be allowed to enter the UAE unless they have spent 14 days in other countries. On the same lines, Emirates announced to halt all flights from India to Dubai. However, departure flights will continue to operate and the ban will not extend to UAE citizens, diplomatic passport holders and official delegations.

CANADA

– The country has banned all flights from India and Pakistan for 30 days due to the growing wave of COVID-19 cases. Cargo flights from India and Pakistan will continue. As per data shared by Health Ministry of Canada, half the people testing positive for the coronavirus are from India. Flights from India account for about one fifth of the country’s air traffic.

PAKISTAN

– Our neighboring country, too, has decided to ban for two weeks travellers coming from India. Pakistan’s National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) took the decision to impose a two-week ban on travel. There will be a ban on inbound passengers coming from India via air and land routes,” the statement read.

NEW ZEALAND

– New Zealand was among the first nations to announce a temporary ban on travellers coming from India, including its citizens, from 11 to 28 April. The travel ban came after 17 of the 23 newly detected coronavirus cases came from India.

IRAN

– While there’s no regular flight service between Iran and India, Iran’s state-run IRNA news agency has reported that the country’s civil aviation agency has banned all flights to and from India and Pakistan because of the dramatic surge in coronavirus cases in the two nations. IRNA said the decision was made by Iran’s Health Ministry and it takes effect Saturday at midnight.[/ans]

[q]WHICH COUNTRIES HAVE ISSUED TRAVEL ADVISORY TO INDIA?[/q]

[ans]

UNITED STATES

– The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States has formulated a slew of guidelines and recommendations for people travelling to India from the United States. Cautioning the people against the deadly virus spread in India, the CDC recommended people to avoid travelling to India in the current situation where even fully vaccinated individuals are at risk of catching the virus.

The national health agency further added that if at all one has to travel to India, they should first get fully vaccinated against Covid-19 and upon reaching India, should follow covid safety protocols like washing hands, maintaining 6 feet distance, and wearing marks at all cost to ensure they do not contract the virus.

ISRAEL

– Israel issued a travel advisory on Thursday warning citizens including those who have recovered from or been vaccinated against COVID-19 , to refrain from travelling to India, Ukraine, Ethiopia, Brazil, South Africa, Mexico and Turkey because of high COVID morbidity rates in the seven countries.

SINGAPORE

– With a large Indian diaspora, Singapore, on Tuesday, announced new safety measures including fewer approvals for people coming from India. All travellers from India must now isolate for seven days at a residence after spending 14 days at a dedicated facility for those serving a stay home notice.

Germany

– Germany has classified India, Qatar, Oman, Tunisia and Cape Verde as new coronavirus “high incidence areas” due to the number of infections there, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases said on Friday. People returning to Germany from high incidence areas must register with the German authorities before travelling and then quarantine on their return.[/ans]

[q]WHICH COUNTRIES CAN YOU FLY TO UNDER AIR BUBBLE PACT?[/q]

[ans]India had initially established travel bubbles with countries like the United States, Germany and France in 2020. Since then, India has formed agreements with 27 nations in total. Here’s the list:

Afghanistan

Bahrain

Bangladesh

Bhutan

Canada

Ethiopia

France

Germany

Iraq

Japan

Kenya

Kuwait

Maldives

Nepal

Netherlands

Nigeria

Oman

Qatar

Russia

Rwanda

Seychelles

Tanzania

Ukraine

UAE

United Kingdom

United States

Uzbekistan[/ans]

[q]IS TOURIST VISA APPLICABLE FOR FLIGHTS UNDER THE AIR CORRIDOR?[/q]

[ans]Yes, certain countries are now allowing passengers from India with a Tourist Visa. Here’s the list-

Dubai

Maldives

Seychelles

However, the majority of countries are still allowing only stranded Indian citizens, OCI card holders & diplomats. If the country has not allowed tourist visa, Indian nationals cannot fly to these countries.[/ans]

[q]WHO CAN TRAVEL FROM INDIA TO US?[/q]

[ans]1. US citizens, permanent residents, and foreign nationals holding valid US visas.

2. Any Indian national holding any type of valid US visa. It would be for the airlines concerned to ensure that there is no travel restriction for Indian nationals to enter the USA with the particular visa category before the issue of ticket/ boarding pass to the Indian passenger.

3. Seamen of foreign nationalities; Seamen holding Indian passports would be allowed subject to clearance from the Ministry of Shipping.[/ans]

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