New Delhi: India has suspended all flights to and from the United Kingdom till December 31 in the wake of the new mutant strain of novel coronavirus.
The suspension went into effect from December 22 midnight.
All flights from India to the UK shall also stand temporarily suspended during the period, said a Ministry tweet.
At present, Vistara, Air India, Virgin Atlantic and British Airways operate flights between the two countries.
These airlines operate about 40 weekly flights from eight Indian destinations to and from the UK.
“In view of the emerging Covid-19 situation in the United Kingdom, the competent authority has temporarily suspended flight to and from the United Kingdom with effect from 2359 hrs IST of 22 December, 2020,” the Directorate General of Civil Aviation said in a circular.
“Therefore, no flights from the United Kingdom will land in India after 2359 hrs IST of 22 December, 2020. The airline shall enforce this at the port of initial departure. Consequently, flights from India to the United Kingdom shall also remain suspended.”
“Airlines operating flights to or from India from other countries shall not board any passenger travelling from the United Kingdom to India and shall ensure that no passenger coming from the United Kingdom is boarded in a flight for any destination in India either directly or indirectly.”
However, the restriction will not apply to international all-cargo operations and flights specifically approved by DGCA.
Besides, the circular said as a measure of abundant precaution, passengers arriving from the UK in all transit flights should be subjected to mandatory RT-PCR test on arrival at the airports in India.
“All medical costs incurred shall be borne by the passengers,” the circular said.
“This is a temporary measure and shall be in force till 31. December, 2020.”
India’s bar on passenger flights follows similar steps by several European countries.
“There are about 40 weekly flights from eight Indian destinations to and from the UK. On an average around 11,000 people travel between the two countries per week using these air services,” Nishant Pitti, Co-founder and CEO, EaseMyTrip.com.
A British Airways spokesperson said: “We are sorry that, like other airlines, due to the current Coronavirus pandemic and global travel restrictions we are operating a reduced and dynamic schedule.”