Air India Boeing 787-8 Photo: Air India

LONDON – DGCA, the Indian Directorate of Civil Aviation, announced today the renewal of the blanket ban of all international flights to and from India.

The ban is valid until 23:59 on July 31; however, according to DGCA, there is some talking regarding the possibility of “bubble flights” taking place from Europe, Canada, the US, and the Gulf States.

No Flights Planned for July

The DCGA announced the extension of this ban from its Twitter account, as the previous one, with this statement the stopped all the international flights to/from India.

The internal Indian flights restarted few operations. The DCGA despite everything decided to reserve themself the decision to allow some flights.

Citizens Stranded abroad, Foreigners in India

This extension caused a slew of reactions, as many Indian citizens are stranded away from their country and want to get back home.

It is understood from reading the comments below the Twitter post that many foreign citizens in India want to return to their home countries; as a result, according to Mr. Sunil Kumar, the Deputy Director-General of DCGA, it will allow just some repatriation flights.

The restrictions were put in place to avoid the spreading of the Covid-19 pandemic on March 19, with a circular sent to India’s Chairman of the Airport Authority. The ban was supposed to end on July 15, but the current sanitary situation in India is not improving – hence the extension of the ban.

What are “bubble flights”?

Today, Business Insider India said that the government was in talks with various nations to allow international travel through ‘bubble’ agreements. Bilateral bubbles between India and other countries have been discussed since late June, but as yet, nothing has materialized.

During a webinar organized by the GMR Group, Airports Authority of India (AAI) Chairman Mr. Arvind Singh said the following on the matter:

This morning, I took a brief from the key point person who is negotiating with the countries, and he said that we are in constant touch. We are working on a consensus to restart international flights. This is going to be through air bubbles.”

Air India Boeing 787 departing Melbourne in the morning light. Photo: Author

The Only Way To Fly

Talks are mainly going on between India and the US, Canada, Europe and the Gulf countries to start flights in these bubbles.

With the ban in place until the end of July, it seems that these “travel bubbles” will be the only way for travelers to take commercial flights to/from India.

At the time of writing, the EU has banned flights from India due to its high rate of COVID infections. However, the EU rules are reviewed every two weeks, so this could change if India is seen to get control of the spread of the virus in the country.