New Delhi: Amid the rise in Omicron Covid cases, the Director-General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has extended the suspension on scheduled international passenger flights till 28 February 2022.  Flights under air bubble arrangements will not be affected, it said.

"The authority has decided to extend the suspension of Scheduled International commercial passenger services to/from India till 2359 hrs IST of 28th February 2022," reads an official order of the DGCA.  The decision comes as the world is braving a fresh wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, driven by Omicron, the latest variant of COVID-19.

The DGCA had on November 26, 2021, announced that India will resume scheduled international passenger flights from December 15, 2021. Just a day later, Prime Minister Narendra Modi asked the Civil Aviation Ministry and the DGCA to review its decision in wake of the rising concerns of the COVID-19 variant Omicron. 

On December 1, 2021, the DGCA revoked its November 26 decision without saying how long the suspension of scheduled international flights will continue. International flights were first suspended in March 23, 2020 after a nationwide lockdown was imposed to tackle the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic. The suspension was extended every month allowing emergency international travel under the air bubble agreements.

India has air transport bubbles with Afghanistan, Australia, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Canada, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Germany, Iraq, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Maldives, Mauritius, Nepal, Netherlands, Nigeria, Oman, Qatar, Russia, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Seychelles, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, Tanzania, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, US and Uzbekistan. The agreements allow both-way air travel under some terms and conditions.  No direct air travel is allowed to countries not covered under air travel bubble agreements.

Flights under the air bubble agreement were not banned but India identified some countries as 'at-risk'.

The list includes all countries of Europe, including the UK, South Africa, Brazil, Botswana, China, Ghana, Mauritius, New Zealand, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Hong Kong, Israel, Congo, Ethiopia, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Nigeria, Tunisia and Zambia.

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