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India extends suspension of international flights till May-end

Earlier this week, Australia announced a temporary ban on direct passenger flights from India as New Delhi battles a calamitous rise in coronavirus infections.

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New Delhi: Amid an exponential surge in COVID-19 cases, the ban on scheduled international flights has been extended for a month.

“The competent authority has further extended the validity of circular issued …regarding Scheduled International commercial passenger services to/from India till 2359 hrs IST of 31 May, 2021,” the Directorate General of Civil Aviation said in a circular on Friday.

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This restriction shall not apply to international all-cargo operations and flights specifically approved by DGCA. However, International Scheduled flights may be allowed on select routes by the competent authority on case to case basis, the circular further elaborated.

Scheduled international passenger services have been suspended in India since March 23 last year due to the coronavirus pandemic. But special international flights have been operating under the Vande Bharat Mission since May last year, and under bilateral “air bubble” arrangements with selected countries since July.

Earlier this week, Australia announced a temporary ban on direct passenger flights from India as New Delhi battles a calamitous rise in coronavirus infections.

It follows similar moves by countries including Canada, the United Arab Emirates and Britain to halt or restrict flights in response to the spiralling Covid crisis in India.

This morning, the country saw another record spike with 3.86 lakh Covid cases, taking the caseload to 1.87 crore. International support has started arriving with the United States, the United Kingdom and several other countries sending Covid emergency supplies.

The huge spike in infections has precipitated restrictive measures, night curfews in certain states. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in an address to the nation this month, urged state governments to use lockdowns as an absolute “last resort”. The country has crossed the grim milestone of 2,00,000 Covid deaths. With agency inputs

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