MIAMI – It looks like full and open international travel to India may be put off a little longer – all thanks to the new Omicron variant of COVID-19.

The Oman Observer reports today that India’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation on Wednesday delayed the resumption of scheduled commercial international passenger airline services to or from India.

In November, India had said that commercial international travel would resume on December 15, after a pause of 20 months. But the new variant of the virus has officials rethinking that decision.

This means that India’s air bubble agreement with 30 countries will likely continue.

Transport bubbles are temporary arrangements between two countries aimed at restarting commercial passenger services when regular international flights are suspended as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Air India VT-ALN Boeing 777-300(ER) (Celebrating India livery). Photo: Brad Tisdel/Airways

The Government’s View

“In the light of the evolving global scenario with the emergence of new variants of concern, we are closely watching the situation in consultation with all stakeholders. An appropriate decision indicating the effective date of resumption of scheduled commercial international passenger services will be [delivered] in due course,” civil aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation said in a notification on Wednesday.

“Resumption of scheduled commercial international passenger services with effect from December 15, 2021 would imply reversion to bilaterally agreed capacity entitlements and termination of air bubble arrangements. However, due to prevailing covid-19 situation, the capacity entitlements shall be as per the category of countries based on the enlistment of countries,” DGCA had said in a November 26 circular.

Countries that currently have air bubble agreements with India include 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, UAE, United Kingdom, USA and Uzbekistan.

Featured image: Air India VT-ANK Boeing 787-8. Photo: Tony Bordelais/Airways