After two years, India will resume scheduled international flights. The regular operations will be started from March 27, 2022. Though the regular international flight operations were suspended for the last two years due to the Covid pandemic, the “air bubble” arrangements with 37 key destination countries ensured global connectivity during this period.
The much-awaited regular flights will lead to more connectivity/choices, leading to lower fares. Top travel industry officials say regular flight fares will be much lower than exorbitant bubble charges.
However, the Ukraine conflict will cast its shadow on these expectations as some foreign airlines are not overflying Russian airspace.
Also, the airfares are unlikely to be close to their pre-pandemic levels as crude is now close to the $140-mark, and the rupee has crashed below the 77 mark to the US dollar. Jet fuel prices globally are at a 14-year high.
Union aviation minister J M Scindia Tweeted Tuesday: “After deliberation with stakeholders and keeping in view decline in Covid cases, we have decided to resume international travel from March 27 (start of summer schedule). Air Bubble arrangements will also stand revoked thereafter.”
The aviation ministry said: “international operations shall be subject to strict adherence to (current) health ministry guidelines.” India had suspended regular international flights on March 23, 2020. On December 25, 2021, the plan to resume them had to be shelved due to Omicron.
Though the suspended regular operations caused inconvenience to the Indian diaspora across the globe, air bubble pacts with major destinations like North America, the UK, UAE, and Germany kept India connected.