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India to resume international flights from December 15

NEW DELHI, Nov 26: India will resume scheduled international flights from December 15 after the coronavirus-induced suspension, the Aviation Ministry informed on Friday.

The Civil Aviation Ministry, in a statement, said the matter of resumption of scheduled commercial international passenger services has been examined in consultation with the Ministry of Home Affairs, the Ministry of External Affairs and the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

“The matter of resumption of scheduled commercial international passenger services to and from India has been examined in consultation with the Ministry of Home Affairs, the Ministry of External Affairs and the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and it has been decided that scheduled commercial international passenger services to and from India may be resumed from December 15, 2021,” the statement read.

The announcement comes two days after Civil Aviation Secretary Rajiv Bansal said international flight operations are expected to return to normalcy soon, “by the end of this year”.

Scheduled international flights have been suspended in India since March 23 last year owing to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The suspension was extended till November 30, exempting dedicated cargo flights and commercial flights that fall under air-bubble arrangements with the destination countries. However, special international passenger flights have been operating since July last year under air bubble arrangements formed with approximately 28 countries.

“Resumption of commercial international passenger services would imply reversion to bilaterally agreed capacity entitlements and termination of air bubble arrangements,” the Civil Aviation Ministry said in its latest announcement.

If a country wants to operate scheduled passenger flights to another nation, a bilateral air services agreement has to be negotiated to decide how many airlines, ports of entries and total flights (or seats) weekly can be allowed between the two.

The Civil Aviation Ministry wrote a letter to aviation regulator DGCA asking it to take “further necessary action” for the resumption of scheduled international flights. Following this, the DGCA issued a formal notification about the resumption of scheduled international passenger flights.

The ministry noted that the countries the Health Ministry has identified as not “at-risk” of Covid-19 will get “full capacity entitlements according to the bilateral air service agreements.” As per the latest update, the Health Ministry has put countries in Europe, including the United Kingdom, and South Africa, Brazil, Bangladesh, Botswana, China, Mauritius, New Zealand, Zimbabwe, Singapore, Hong Kong and Israel under the ‘at-risk’ category.

According to the Aviation Ministry, if a country has been identified to be “at-risk” of Covid-19 and has an air bubble agreement with India, then “75 per cent of pre-COVID scheduled international flight operations of Indian or foreign carrier whichever is higher or a minimum of seven frequencies per week subject to availability of entitlements under bilateral agreements will be permitted”.

Whereas, for a country that has been identified to be “at-risk” of Covid-19 and does not have an air-bubble agreement with India, then only “50 per cent of bilateral capacity entitlements or 50 per cent of pre-COVID operations of Indian or foreign carrier, whichever is higher”, will be permitted.

Under an air bubble agreement between the two nations, airlines of both countries can operate special flights between their territories with certain restrictions.

It also stressed that all scheduled international flights will have to strictly adhere to the Union health ministry’s protocols for international travel issued on November 11 this year.

 

Rakesh Jhunjhunwala Airline's $9 Billion Order For Boeing 737s

DUBAI, Nov 16: Akasa Air on Tuesday placed an order for 72 Boeing 737 MAX jets, valued at nearly $9 billion at list prices - a deal that could help the US planemaker regain lost ground in one of the world's most promising markets.

The order by billionaire investor Rakesh Jhunjhunwala-backed airline comes months after air safety regulator allowed the country's airlines to fly the MAX jet, ending its nearly two and a half years of regulatory grounding after two fatal crashes in five months killed 346 people.

Jhunjhunwala, known as "India's Warren Buffett", has teamed up with former chief executives of IndiGo, the country's biggest carrier, and Jet Airways to tap into demand for domestic air travel, which is nearing pre-pandemic levels as the country recovers from a devastating outbreak earlier this year.

The low-cost airline received initial clearance from the civil aviation ministry to start operations in October and is expected to begin flying next year.

"We are already witnessing a strong recovery in air travel, and we see decades of growth ahead of us," Akasa Air Chief Executive Vinay Dube said at the Dubai airshow, where the order was announced.

The order by Akasa includes two variants, the 737-8 and the high-capacity 737-8-200, the companies said.

It was reported in September that Boeing was close to winning an order for some 70 to 100 737 MAX jets from Akasa, pending separate talks on a long-term engine service deal.

Boeing dominates India's wide-body market of 51 planes but fare wars and high costs have led to casualties among full-service carriers, including Kingfisher Airlines in 2012 and Jet Airways in 2019, making low cost carriers and Airbus even more dominant.

Boeing's share of India's 570 narrow-body planes fell to 18% from 35% after Jet's collapse in 2018, data from consultancy CAPA India shows. Currently, SpiceJet is the only customer for the MAX planes in the country.

 

 

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