International air travel still remains a distant dream amidst COVID-19. As per the travel guidelines issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on August 29, international flights might not be allowed till September 30 apart from some exceptions.
There has been no mention of commercial flight operations in the Unlock 4.0 guidelines. The country is currently going through gradual unlock after the lockdown that was imposed in the wake of COVID-19 outbreak; Unlock 4.0 has started from September 1.
Earlier this month, all restrictions on inter and intra-state travel in the country were also lifted.
MHA has also issued a statement on passenger movement for Unlock 4.0, stating that, “Movement by passenger trains; domestic passenger air travel; a movement of a person on Vande Bharat and Air Transport Bubble flights; and sign-on and sign-off of Indian seafarers will continue to be regulated as per the SOPs issued.”
Earlier, all commercial flights were suspended till August 31. While commercial flight services will not be allowed till September 30, public transport services will be put into operation to ease passengers’ woes. Previously in this month, the Director General of Civil Aviation
In a much-awaited development, the central government has lifted all restrictions on passenger and goods’ movement for both inter-state and intra-state travel. Reportedly, Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla has written to all Union Territories and state and chief secretaries on the same. He has also communicated that any such imposition would henceforth be treated as violation of the guidelines issued by the MHA.
Some other countries around the world are taking some baby steps to start international flights.
Europe Travel News
Europe has surpassed the USA in the daily count of Coronavirus cases, hitting its already flailing tourism industry. It is believed that the current surge in the number of COVID-19 patients in Europe is largely an effect of relaxed border norms within various nations of the European Union.
Western Europe, in particular, can be another hotspot for the pandemic as the region is seeing a sudden increase in the number of COVID cases. It has been reported that the trend is similar to what was seen in March and does not bode well. In fact, the first travel bubble in Europe, between Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia burst and called off earlier last week.
International air passenger totals have dropped by as many as 1.2 billion travelers according to the latest projections from the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).
Its estimates also show that international capacity could drop by as much as two-thirds from what had been forecast for the first three quarters this year, leading airline revenues to drop by as much 160 to 253 billion dollars for the January to September period.
Some countries have made some bold attempts to open up.
Saudi Arabia is ready to remove suspension orders on international flights from Tuesday, albeit on a partial basis for now. The development has come after six months of travel curbs imposed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the latest statement given by Nepal’s Tourist Minister Bikash Lamsal, the Nepal government is planning to give utmost preference to Indian tourists. Indians form a major part of Nepal foreign tourist arrivals. Reportedly, Nepal has suffered a loss of 13 crore Nepal rupees per day owing to the present pandemic, which has suspended all tourist activities.
Brazil, Egypt and Namibia
Brazil, despite the record figures, the government issued a decree reopening the country to foreign visitors arriving by plane, ending a four-month travel ban in hopes of reviving a lockdown-devastated tourism industry. After Brazil, and Egypt among other countries, Namibia is also ready to welcome foreign tourists. From this week, airlines can land at Hosea Kutako International Airport.
According to the latest reports, international tourists will have to provide negative COVID-19 test reports issued within 72 hours of the person’s flight time.