In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, everything had come to a standstill. Everybody was locked up at their homes and there were curbs preventing the movement of people. As a result of which, the hospitality and tourism industry suffered a huge blow.
But thanks to the gradual depleting of Covid cases and the increased vaccination coverage, the Indian Government measuredly lifted curbs one step at a time. The DGCA on 8th March, 2022 issued a statement saying the resumption of scheduled commercial international passenger services to and from India from 27th March, 2022.
Upon the resuming of scheduled international flights, the DGCA stated that other countries would have to return to the bilaterally agreed seating capacity entitlements in accordance to the air service agreements.
Air Bubble Agreements
Scheduled commercial international passenger services were banned on 23rd March, 2021 in the wake of the Delta variant of the Coronavirus. Four months after which, the Indian Government started getting into bilateral air-bubble agreements with various countries starting off with Germany, the UK, the USA and France, though it was facing flak and opposition for running its deportation (Vande Bharat) flights meant for bringing back stranded Indians across the world. Because of this, only a limited number of flights to and from these countries were allowed. In today’s date, India has been able to get into bilateral air bubble agreements with 36 countries.
Initially, the Indian Government had decided to resume international flights in the month of November, 2021. But, had to reconsider this decision within days due to the spike in cases caused by the Omicron variant of the Coronavirus.
Health Ministry Norms
Passengers travelling on international flights have to abide by the guidelines set by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. In line with the guidelines, passengers arriving in India are required to fill up a self-declaration form on the Air Suvidha portal by uploading a negative RT-PCR report which is taken within the stipulated time frame before boarding the flight or a certificate showing the status of your vaccination. If there are any symptomatic passengers onboard, then they will be immediately taken to a medical facility upon arrival. 2% of passengers, selected randomly, will have to undergo a Covid test upon arrival.
With Indian carriers having their fleet under-utilized since a long while, they will gain first-mover’s advantage compared to international carriers as international airlines could take up to 4-6 weeks for redeploying aircrafts and ramping up capacity for India.
Glad Tidings For Everybody!!!
This news of international flights fully resuming has come as music to the ears of both- travelers as well as the hospitality and tourism industry. This relief comes ahead of the peak summer season. In today’s date, international flight movements stand at 40% of what it was before the pandemic broke. According to the data published by the Airports Authority of India, total international passengers were at a whopping 64.9 lakh in January 2020. Cut short to January, 2022; international passengers stand at a mere 25 lakh.
But all’s not bad, especially after the resumption of international flights and that too before the peak summer season. Resumption of international flights will regularize the demand-supply balance leading to the dropping down of air fares. With the reopening of international borders and relaxation of curbs all across the globe, the demand for international travel is building up in India and people are looking forward to long haul travel destinations.
So, this summer season is going to be great time for travelers to relieve themselves of the frustration and stress that the pandemic has caused. And of course, now’s the time for the industry to make great monopoly.