India has postponed the planned resumption of international scheduled flights in light of the evolving global scenario concerning the emergence of the new COVID-19 variant Omicron, according to a circular issued by its Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on December 1, 2021.

The country earlier had planned to re-open from December 15, 2021, albeit with some capacity constraints for countries deemed to be unsafe due to the pandemic.

"In view of the evolving global scenario with the emergence of new variant of concern, the situation is being watched closely in consultation with all stakeholders and an appropriate decision indicating the effective date of resumption of scheduled international commercial passenger services shall be notified in due course," the circular read.

India has been closed to regular international services since it first went into lockdown on March 23, 2020. The suspension was extended from time to time. However, the country has been open to a number of countries in terms of so-called air bubble arrangements. These would have been terminated from December 15 and airline capacity entitlements would have reverted to those agreed under the terms of bilateral air service agreements, according to an earlier DGCA circular. Due to prevailing COVID-19 conditions, country capacity entitlements would have depended on their “at-risk” rating from the Indian Ministry of Health & Family Welfare.

India established air bubbles with a number of countries, including Afghanistan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Canada, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Germany, Iraq, Japan, Kenya, Kuwait, the Maldives, Mauritius, Nepal, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Oman, Qatar, Russia, Rwanda, Seychelles, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Ukraine, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), UK, United States (US), and Uzbekistan, according to the DGCA website.

Air India (AI, Mumbai Int'l), on social media, had earlier announced it was restarting international flights from Delhi Int'l and Mumbai Int'l to Singapore Changi; from Delhi and Kolkata Int'l to Bangkok Suvarnabhumi (Thailand); from Delhi to Melbourne Tullamarine (Australia), and adding flights to Hong Kong Int'l and Paris CDG (France). Vistara (UK, Delhi Int'l) had also announced the resumption of services from Mumbai to Singapore from November 29.

Editorial Comment: Updated with India postponing the re-opening of international travel. - 01.12.2021 - 10:45 UTC