West indian countries

India publishes list of ‘at risk’ countries after discovery of new variant of Covid

Regular international flights to and from India will resume from December 15 after a 20-month suspension induced by the coronavirus, the Civil Aviation Ministry said on Friday.

The health ministry said on Friday that countries in Europe, including the UK, and South Africa, Brazil, Bangladesh, Botswana, China, Mauritius, New Zealand, Zimbabwe, Singapore, Hong Kong and Israel have been put at risk. ‘Category.

However, countries deemed “at risk” of COVID-19 by the Union Ministry of Health will only be allowed to operate a certain percentage of their pre-Covid scheduled flights, the Aviation Ministry said.

India’s decision to resume scheduled international passenger flights came at a time when various countries such as Britain, Germany, Singapore, Israel, France and Italy have restricted air travel from from southern Africa where a new variant of coronavirus with serious health implications has been reported.

The Center on Thursday called on all states and union territories to conduct rigorous screening and testing of all international travelers arriving or transiting through South Africa, Hong Kong and Botswana, where a new variant of the coronavirus has been detected.

According to the Center’s ruling on Friday, airlines will be allowed to operate 50% of their pre-COVID scheduled passenger flights between India and South Africa, Hong Kong and Botswana from December 15.

India does not have an air bubble agreement, which allows special passenger flights between two countries under COVID-related restrictions, with South Africa, Hong Kong and Botswana. Also, these three countries are classified in the “at risk” category by the Ministry of Health.

In its letter to the aviation regulator DGCA on Friday, the Aviation Ministry said that if a country has been identified in the “at risk” category and does not have an air bubble agreement with the India, then a maximum of “50% of bilateral capacity rights or 50% of pre-COVID operations of an Indian or foreign carrier, whichever is greater”, will be allowed.

If a country wishes to operate scheduled passenger flights to another country, a bilateral air services agreement must be negotiated to decide how many airlines, ports of entry and the total number of weekly flights (or seats) can be. allowed in between.

The Aviation Ministry said if a country has been identified as “at risk” for COVID-19 but has an air bubble deal with India, then “75 percent of scheduled international flight operations pre-COVID from an Indian or foreign carrier, whichever is greater, or a minimum of seven frequencies per week subject to availability of rights under bilateral agreements will be permitted ”.

Countries that are not in the “at risk” category will obtain “full capacity rights in accordance with bilateral air service agreements,” the aviation ministry noted.

“The resumption of international commercial passenger services would involve the return to bilaterally agreed capacity rights and the termination of the air bubble agreements,” he said.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, scheduled international flights have been suspended in India since March 23 last year. However, special passenger flights have been operating since July last year under air bubble deals with 31 countries.

Under an air bubble agreement between the two countries, airlines of the two countries can operate special flights between their territories with certain restrictions.

India has air bubbles with Afghanistan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Canada, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Germany, Iraq, Japan, Kenya, Kuwait, Maldives, Mauritius, Nepal, Netherlands, Nigeria, Oman, Qatar, Russia, Rwanda, Seychelles, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States and Uzbekistan.

The Aviation Ministry said: “The issue of resuming scheduled international commercial passenger services to and from India has been discussed in consultation with the Home Office, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and it has been decided that scheduled international commercial passenger services to and from India can resume from December 15, 2021. ”Aviation Authority Civilian (DGAC) has issued a formal notification regarding the resumption of scheduled international passenger flights after receipt of the letter from the Ministry of Aviation.

The Aviation Ministry said on Friday: “Seats under the air bubble arrangement that have already been sold by airlines, which are more than capacity rights under bilateral air service agreements available with airlines, will be allowed to operate until December 14, 2021. ” “These airlines will limit their operations to capacity rights and enter into available bilateral air service agreements with airlines from December 15, 2021,” he added.

All scheduled international flights will have to strictly adhere to the Union Health Ministry’s protocols for international travel published on November 11 of this year, he said.

Amitabh Khosla, Country Director for India, International Air Transport Association (IATA), said in a statement: “Today’s announcement by the Indian government is a positive and welcome step towards standardization of connectivity. aerial view of India with the rest of the world. “We hope this will ultimately lead to the removal of restrictions on air bubbles, allowing passengers to travel safely to and from India,” he added.

IATA is a global airline organization with approximately 290 members representing 83 percent of global air traffic.

(This story was not edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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