The ministry of civil aviation on Friday extended the ban on international flights till July 31. The earlier order said the ban would be in place till July 15.

The decision comes even as capacity on domestic routes has been increased to 45% from the earlier 33%.

On Thursday, chairman of Airports Authority of India (AAI) had said India is in talks with the US and Canada and the countries in European and Gulf regions on establishing individual bilateral bubbles which will allow airlines of each country in the pact to operate international flights.

“I am sure there would be a positive outcome of the talks with the US, Canada and with the Gulf countries and the negotiations are going on,” Arvind Singh had said yesterday.

Scheduled international passenger flights have remained suspended in India since March 23 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Aviation minister Hardeep Puri had on June 20 said the government will start thinking on the resumption of international passenger flights in mid-July, when it expects the domestic air traffic to reach 50-55% of the levels before the coronavirus. The minister had also said that resumption of international flights will also depend on demand and other countries being open to receiving flights amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

International flight movement in countries such as the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Germany, China, Singapore and the United Arab Emirates now varies between 3% and 18% of their earlier flight capacity, the minister had said.

Giving details the minister said, entry is conditional in the US, UK, France, China, UAE and Singapore. “You cannot have normal civil aviation operations under such conditions,” he had said.

Puri added that in the absence of a decision on resumption of international flights, India is left with no option but to continue “evacuation and repatriation” flights under the Vande Bharat Mission.

After nearly two months of suspension the domestic flights resumed operations on May 25.

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