Saudi Arabia has suspended travel to and from India, Brazil, and Argentina due to the rising number of covid-19 positive cases, the country's civil aviation regulator General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) said in a note to airlines Wednesday.

According to the note from the GACA, any person who has been in India, Brazil and Argentina in the last 14 days prior to arrival in Saudi Arabia will not be allowed in, except for persons with government invitations to travel to these countries.

The note, however, doesn't state a time frame for the suspension.

A copy of the note has been reviewed by Mint.

Airline received directive from GACA

A senior airline official said that his airline received the directive from GACA on 22 September night.

"As per the directive, Indian airlines will now not be allowed to operate any flights to Saudi Arabia nor will any flights from the Gulf nation be allowed to fly to India from 24 September," said the airline official requesting anonymity.

"It is clear that the rising number of covid-19 cases in India has led to Saudi Arabia taking this drastic step and this could lead to other countries issuing suspension orders. We however hope that the Indian government intervenes and talks with Saudi government to revoke the suspension order," he added.

As things stand, most Indian airlines, including Air India, SpiceJet, and IndiGo, have operated charter flights and repatriation flights from Saudi Arabia to India during the past few months. At present, India and Saudi Arabia don't have bilateral travel under an air bubble arrangement.

Air bubble arrangements or travel corridors are temporary arrangements between two countries with an aim to carry out commercial passenger services at a time when regular international flight services are suspended.

International flights to and from India remain suspended at least till 30 September. However, charter flights, repatriation flights and flights under air bubble arrangement are currently allowed to operate.

When contacted, Spokespersons of Air India, IndiGo and SpiceJet were not immediately available for comments.

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