Amid the surging coronavirus infections, India has extended the suspension of international commercial passenger flights to and from the country till August 31, said Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on July 31.
However, international all-cargo operations and flights specifically approved by the DGCA have been permitted to operate.
Initially, overseas flights were suspended in late March when the lockdown was imposed to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The suspension of scheduled international commercial services was later extended till July 31.
In a statement, the aviation regulator said the government has decided to "extend the suspension on the Scheduled International Commercial Passenger Services to/from India up to 2359 hours IST of 31st August".
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As international flight operation was suspended, the Centre started the ‘Vande Bharat Mission’ on May 6 to help those stranded due to the novel coronavirus pandemic reach their destinations via international repatriation flights.
During the suspension period, more than 2,900 repatriation flights by foreign carriers to uplift stranded passengers to/ from India have been approved, the statement said.
Under the Vande Bharat Mission, Air India and Air India Express have uplifted 2,67,436 stranded passengers, and other charters have uplifted 4,86,811 stranded passengers from May 6 to July 30 period, it added.
To allow gradual movement of passenger traffic amid the COVID-19 pandemic situation, 'Transport Bubble' agreements have been signed with the US, France, and Germany.
"Recently, 'Transport Bubble' agreement has also been signed with Kuwait to uplift stranded passengers both to/ from India. More similar arrangements are likely to fructify and ease passenger movements from different countries," the statement said.
Such bilateral agreements allow the operation of flights between the two countries subject to a set of regulations.
International flight services to and from India remain suspended since March 23 due to the pandemic.(With inputs from PTI)