The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), the statutory body of the Indian Central Government, has decided to delay the resumption of scheduled commercial international passenger airline services to or from India due to the latest public scare caused by the new COVID-19 variant - Omicron. The decision comes after a month of deliberation over resuming commercial international flights from 15th December 2021, a move which is being now reviewed because of the emergence of Omicron variants.
‘In view of the evolving global scenario with the emergence of new variants of concern, the situation is being watched closely in consultation with all stakeholders, and an appropriate decision indicating the effective date of resumption of scheduled commercial international passenger services shall be notified in due course,’ says the circular issued today by DGCA.
The confirmation issued by the regulatory body comes a few days after a meeting chaired by home secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla and attended by NITI Aayog member V K Paul, principal scientific adviser to Prime Minister Vijay Raghavan along with more senior health and aviation officials, which was urgently held on Sunday, the 28th of November 2021.
Also, junior aviation minister Gen (retired) VK Singh told the ANI news agency that the government has been under ‘tremendous pressure’ to find solutions to India’s commercial travel problems but the existence of new COVID-19 variant has again completely changed the situation and has brought all the planning back to the drawing board.
This news will also affect the travel booking platforms like ClearTrip, MakeMyTrip and others as they were experiencing a large bulk of inquiries about foreign travels and insurances before this latest announcement.
However, as per the DGCA guidelines, the international ‘air bubble’ agreements with different countries shall continue to function as they are now. Yet a decision on the resumption of commercial international flights will likely only be taken after the government finds it relatively safer to do so amid the latest setback due to the new Omicron scare.