International flights: Tremendous pressure from public for resumption, says minister; December 15 date under review

International flights: Tremendous pressure from public for resumption, says minister; December 15 date under review
© Provided by Hindustan Times Omicron has been reported from many countries now including Australia, UK throwing challenges to international travel.

As the outbreak of Omicron in several countries in the world has clouded India’s plan of resuming regular international flights from December 15, junior aviation minister Gen (retired) VK Singh on Monday told news agency ANI that there has been tremendous pressure from the public for the last two months to resume international scheduled flights. Resumption of regular flights from December 15 was not an early decision, the minister said.

After a high-level meeting on Sunday over the latest developments in the world after the new Covid variant, Omicron has been detected, the Union home ministry said the decision on the effective date of the resumption of scheduled commercial international passengers service will be reviewed as per the evolving global scenario, indicating that the date of December 15 might be changed.

The Centre has already revised the guidelines for international arrivals and put states and union territories on alert. Delhi, Karnataka which receive a number of international fliers have urged the Prime Minister to ban the entry of passengers from the affected countries.

As announced by the civil aviation ministry, India will not begin 100% regular passenger services with the countries that are “at- risk”. 75% of operations will begin in “at risk” countries with a travel bubble with India and 50% of operations will begin in “at risk” countries without any travel bubble with India.

South Africa, Israel, Singapore, Hong Kong, Botswana, the UK where Omicron cases have been found are there on the list, but Omicron has now been found in other countries too, like Australia, which are not on the list.

“We have tremendous pressure from the public to start international scheduled flights. We are taking all protocols and cautions. Anybody coming from outside, especially tourists, are being screened and tested at the airport. Only after checking the results, they are being allowed to go,” minister of state for civil aviation Retd Gen VK Singh told ANI.

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