India extends ban on international flights; plans travel bubble with US

Stranded US persons advised to take advantage of Air India evacuation flights.

Even as India extended suspension of international passenger flights to and from India till July 31, it launched the fourth phase of its massive evacuation exercise to bring back stranded Indians, including from the US.

Since the launch of its Vande Bharat Mission on May 6, nearly 445,000 people have already returned to India, according to Indian Civil Aviation Minister, Hardeep Puri.

With no further US government charter flights scheduled or planned to evacuate US persons from India at this time, the US embassy in India  advised them to take advantage of these evacuation flights run by Air India.

India’s national carrier has planned 31 flights to and from the US touching Chicago, Newark, New York, San Francisco and Washington, DC between July 3 and 10.

Announcing further extension of the international flight ban imposed on March 22, India’s aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), said Friday the restrictions shall not apply to international all-cargo operations and flights specifically approved by it.

India is also reported to be working on creating travel bubbles with US, Canada and European countries to resume international flights to and from these countries.

“The travel bubble arrangement is being made with US, Canada and some European countries under which airlines of both sides will be able to operate flights on that bubble,” Airports Authority of India (AAI) chairman Arvind Singh said Thursday.

For instance, airlines of India and the US will do so on India-US travel bubble, he said.

Phase 4 of Vande Bharat Mission is now underway with the government planning to operate more than 500 flights between July 3 and July 20.

“We began VBM to bring back about 190K stranded citizens. But when numbers grew manifold we ramped up the mission,” tweeted Puri.

“Since 6th May, nearly 445K people have returned on VBM (170K) & chartered flights including foreign charters (275K). More are expected to return in Phase-4,” he wrote.

In addition to Air India, Air France, KLM, and Lufthansa are also offering unscheduled flights to European cities where there are connecting flights to the US.

“US persons are eligible to travel on these flights,” the US embassy noted advising interested travelers to contact airlines directly regarding these flights, not the US mission or other foreign missions in India.

“We urge US persons desiring to depart India to take advantage of these flights,” it said since “there are no further US government charter flights scheduled or planned to evacuate US persons from India at this time.

The Air India evacuation flight schedule can be found here.

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2 Comments

  1. DIAGO DSOUZA

    Does one require DGCA approval to board Lufthansa flight from Mumbai to Frankfurt after August 01, 2020.

  2. Ujjal saha

    No flight for Italy or Europe plz give some flight in this route wee are in problem in India wee need to go back home.

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