India In Isolation

by Ajay Prakash
Air India plane landing

With the unprecedented rise in COVID19 infections, India faces isolation from the rest of the world. The second wave of the pandemic has hit the entire country hard. Travel becomes the first casualty under such circumstances, especially International travel. Last week, we reported how domestic air travel had fallen by fifty percent due to the pandemic wave.

International Flights Remain Suspended

The Government of India had extended the suspension of International flights until April 30, 2021. At present, all international flights are being operated under ‘bubble’ arrangements with countries. Even these flights are now being withdrawn. Here is a summary of the measures that countries are taking to contain travel to India. These countries are suspending flight operations for varying periods ranging from ten days to one month.

Canada

On April 23, 2021, Canada was the latest country to join the list for imposing travel restrictions. Flights to and from India are being withdrawn for thirty days. The Canadian transport Minister Omar Alghabra announced that the ban will be in place for 30 days.

Kolkata Airport

Kolkata Airport Representative Photo. Image NDTV

Gulf Countries

One of the busiest air corridors in the region is the Gulf-India route. More than a thousand flights operate in this region every week. Emirates Airline has suspended operations with effect from April 24, 2021, midnight for ten days. However, the airline will keep monitoring the situation and extend the regulations if need be.

Kuwait has also suspended flight operations between the two countries, with effect from April 24, 2021. However, there are exceptions for travel for Gulf nationals and permanent residence permit holders.

United States of America & United Kingdom

So far, the US has not regulated flights to India. However, the government has issued an advisory to all its citizens to avoid travel to India. This warning is due to the surge in the pandemic in the country.

The UK has put India on the “Red List” of countries that effectively bars travel to the country. The UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock had earlier informed the House of Commons that 103 cases of the new mutant virus have been detected in the UK. He further said that “a vast majority had links to international travel”. Anyone returning from India will have to undergo a mandatory ten-day quarantine.

Passenger In PPE Suit

Passenger In PPE Suit. Image Business Standard

Other Countries

The other countries that have either regulated travel or issued travel advisories are France, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Singapore, Saudi Arabia, and Indonesia. Many more countries are likely to follow suit.

Such travel restrictions are most likely to prolong till the pandemic infects come down to controllable levels. Travelers do carry a risk of spreading the virus. The recovery of international travel is sure to get delayed. This delay will add to the agony of the already distressed airlines.

According to Moody –

The surge in infection numbers will heighten health concerns, renew economic uncertainty and temper consumers’ willingness to travel. Higher infection numbers could also force the reintroduction of travel restrictions that will drastically reduce passenger traffic,”

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