The consecutive extension of the ban on direct flights has caused distress and inconvenience for students who have secured admission to Canada varsities, as they are required to take a connecting flight to Canada where they will have to obtain a negative RT-PCR certificate from a third country – that too, a country that has to be on the approved list of Canada.
For instance, 19-year-old Lareina Kumar had to take a flight to Dubai, wait for over nine hours due to a layover to take the next flight to Barcelona, stay in Mexico for two days to take an RT-PCR test, and then finally take a flight to Vancouver to arrive at Emily Carr University of Art and Design in Canada. Kumar is a second-year undergraduate student who enrolled last year. Till date, the classes were online due to the pandemic.
Because of the Covid-19 situation in India, Canada has restricted direct flights from the country.
Kumar had to spend more than Rs 5 lakh on a trip that would otherwise have cost her less than Rs 1.5 lakh.
“I had plans to go with my daughter to help her settle there but all plans have been hit by the restrictions forced by the pandemic. Not only my daughter has to travel all alone for the first time but also navigate through four countries with a sword hanging on our heads that the norms can change any time,” Lareina’s mother Lovely Kumar was quoted as saying.
“We had a ticket booked for her through Doha but then the norms changed for the country and the partial refund from the trip is also nowhere in sight. The hotels offering refund policy are offering exorbitant prices while the affordable ones have no cancellation policy. So a trip that would have cost us around Rs 1.5 lakh has shot upto Rs 5 lakh and the mental anguish it has caused is unimaginable,” she added.
Several European countries, including the United Kingdom and France, have relaxed travel restrictions to India as the Covid-19 situation in the country has improved. However, Canada has yet again extended the ban of direct flights from India till September 21.
The ban, which had first been imposed on April 22, has been rolled over numerous times, and this is the fifth time it has been extended. While it was initially supposed to expire on August 21, the ban will remain in place until September 21, 2021.
Canada said that it “continues to closely monitor the epidemiological situation, and will be working closely with the government of India and aviation operators to ensure appropriate procedures are put in place to enable a safe return of direct flights as soon as conditions permit.”