Even as the Australian Prime Minister announced that the pause on flights from India to Australia will end at midnight on May 14, Canada said suspension of services will continue till the third week of June.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on May 14 that the pause on flights from India to Australia will end with an aircraft used to bring in COVID-19 related assistance to India returning stranded Australians home.
It is one among the more than 30 countries that have joined hands to support India as a devastating second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic sweeps through the country.
An Air Canada was quoted by a Hindustan Times report on Friday that is now only accepting bookings beginning in late June, as a spokesperson for the airline told Global News that they “have further extended the suspension of flights from India until June 22”.
“We did this in anticipation of the existing suspension of flights between the two countries being extended,” the spokesperson added.
Prior to the suspension, both Air Canada and Air India were operating almost daily flights between the Canadian cities of Toronto and Vancouver and New Delhi in an air corridor arrangement that came into place last summer.
Australia to Send ‘Packed’ Plane
In a Facebook post, Prime Minister Mr. Morrison said a flight packed with “medical supplies and equipment to support our good friends in India took off from Sydney earlier today (Friday)”.
“This flight was carrying another 1,056 ventilators, 60 oxygen concentrators and other essential supplies. It adds to the more than 1,000 ventilators and 43 oxygen concentrators we sent last week,” Mr. Morrison said.
He went on to add that at midnight of May 14, “the temporary pause on flights from India ends and facilitated commercial flights by the Government will resume as promised, with a strict pre-flight testing regime to keep Australians safe.”
There are an estimated 7,000-9,000 citizens, according to news reports, who have been stranded in India as the second wave hit in March-April.
Australians returning home “will have to return both a negative COVID-19 test result and a negative rapid antigen test result prior to departure,” the Prime Minister said, and added that since last year when the pandemic struck, the Australian government has facilitated the return of nearly 20,000 citizens, including through 38 government-facilitated flights.
“We continue to stand by India as they battle with a growing covid-19 outbreak and humanitarian crisis and will continue to work in partnership with them to meet urgent needs,” Mr. Morrison added.
Sharp Cut in Capacities
Meanwhile, As the second wave continues to spread in the country, Indian airlines have seen a sharp cut in their seat capacities. India has been banned by many countries and domestic flights have also witnessed fewer passengers in recent times.
According to a Ministry of Civil Aviation Ministry report, India has cut down its number of monthly seats. The data shows that the daily domestic passengers fell below 100,000 for the first time in over six months.
Last Sunday, the aviation ministry saw just 87,372 travellers take to the skies across India, the lowest point since last August, just months after domestic flights resumed. Airlines, in-kind, have reduced their flying schedules and frequencies across once-popular routings.
Air India will operate its flights from London to Mumbai starting from May 17. According to a tweet by the airline, the flights will be operational from London’s Heathrow to Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport from May 17 to May 31.
However, the flights will not be operating on May 18, 23, and 30. The Airlines’ tweet also stated that passengers who have already booked these dates and are hoping to travel, are required to revalidate their bookings.
Air India also informed that the airline will also be operating its Bengaluru-London Heathrow-Bengaluru route. The airline will operate from Bengaluru to London Heathrow on May 17, 19, 24, 26, and 31. The same will operate from London Heathrow to Bengaluru on May 16, 18, 23, 25, and 30.
Previously, the airline had cancelled all flights to London from April 24 to 30 after the UK government included India in the red list of countries.