India is keeping the scheduled international passenger flights suspended till January 31 next year, the country’s civil aviation authority said on Thursday. The announcement comes amid fears about the omicron variant of the coronavirus.
The order came days after the Indian government decided not to resume scheduled international flights from December 15, which was announced last month.
On Thursday, a notification by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) said that “in partial modification of the circular, … decided to extend the suspension of scheduled international commercial passenger services to/from India” till the end of January.
The notification said the restriction “shall not apply to international all-cargo operations and flights specially approved by the DGCA,” and noted that the flights may be allowed on selected routes “on case to case basis.”
In view of the COVID-19 pandemic, the commercial flights were suspended from March 23, 2020. Currently, flights on various international routes are operated under temporary arrangements.
On November 26, the authorities had said they would resume the international flight operations from December 15.
A few days later, on December 1, the authorities said that “in view of the evolving global scenario with the emergence of new variants of concern,” a decision “indicating the effective date of resumption of scheduled commercial international passenger services shall be notified in due course.”
From a staggering peak of more than 400,000 COVID-19 cases and 4,500 deaths per day, the South Asian country is now seeing a decline in new infections.
On Thursday, the Indian Health Ministry said 9,419 new cases were registered in the country, taking the total to 34.6 million, while there were 159 more fatalities, raising the death toll to 474,111.
The ministry on Thursday evening said the country’s vaccination coverage had crossed the 1.31 billion doses milestone.
As per the health authorities, the country has also detected several omicron coronavirus cases in different parts of the country.