USA, Canada, UK, Ireland, Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, others easing travel curbs on Indian students
Air India is doubling its highly popular US nonstop flights from August 7 to meet the rush of Indian students heading to US universities this fall.
India’s national carrier had reduced the number of weekly flights from about 40 to under 10 as the US barred most travelers from India starting May 4 in the wake of a deadly second Covid-19 wave in India.
Now, the airline will operate at least 21 flights per week to the US, with the maximum increase in New York (JFK and Newark or EWR) flights followed by Chicago and San Francisco, Times News Network reported.
Read: Air India announces more US-India flights from June 11 (June 8, 2020)
United, the only other airline with nonstop flights between the two countries, is not altering India flight frequency for now.
“Flights to USA had to be curtailed after the US Presidential Proclamation restricting air traffic from India. Flights were combined and rescheduled, affecting travel itinerary for some.
“Frequency to US has now been enhanced from August and all out efforts to accommodate passengers is on,” Air India said on social media.
Before May 4, the air bubble requirement for a majority of travelers between India and them US to fly direct saw AI operating almost as many flights to America as it did during pre-pandemic times.
The May 4 restrictions drastically reducing eligible fliers from India to the US, led to AI slashing its flights.
While the US is yet to lift the restrictions on travelers from India, the student admission season has led to a surge in demand — first for visa applications that saw the US embassy portal crashing when it opened mid-July and now for flights.
The US has allowed entry of Indian students enrolled for classes in American universities.
“Students with valid F-1 or M-1 visas intending to begin or continue academic studies beginning August 1, 2021, or later may enter the United States up to 30 days prior to the start of their studies,” the US embassy’s website states.
As thousands of Indian students secured US visa appointments for July and August, a senior American diplomat assured that the Indian students would not require any proof of Covid-19 vaccination to enter the US.
”They will need a negative report of their COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours prior to their departure,” he added.
Read: Student Rush: Air India Doubling US Flights From August 7 (July 29, 2021)
Meanwhile, the Indian government told the nation’s parliament that travel restrictions are being eased for Indian students by several countries including the US, Canada, the UK, and Germany with the improving Covid situation.
New Delhi has been making efforts to have travel curbs eased for Indian students enrolled in foreign universities, Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan told the Rajya Sabha Thursday.
“Our Missions abroad have been actively taking up these issues with the respective Governments and have been impressing upon those Governments to ease the travel restrictions. Also the issue of travel restrictions has been taken up at the Ministerial level with several countries,” he said.
Consequently, travel restrictions are being eased for Indian students to travel to many countries, including USA, Canada, UK, Ireland, Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Georgia, etc; more countries are expected to open up when Covid situation improves, the minister added.