Indian authorities have extended their international flight ban on most inbound commercial flights through Sept. 30 to curb the spread of COVID-19, according to a letter issued by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on Sunday.
The DGCA further said, “However, international scheduled flights may be allowed on selected routes by the competent authority on a case-to-case basis.”
This means charter, repatriation, and a handful of approved commercial flights under bilateral travel corridors with almost 25 countries including the US, the UK, the UAE, Kenya, Bhutan and France can continue to operate.
Notice that flight availability is subject to change at short notice, not only due to the extension of the travel ban but also because of the restrictions imposed on India by third party countries.
Same happens with flight prices. Passengers have reportedly paid up to USD $ 4,000 for a one-way ticket from Delhi to New York.
India has shown signs of improvement toward containing the coronavirus even with concerns over the Delta variant. However, this is nothing but disastrous news for the already impacted country’s hospitality and aviation industry.
India has a well-balanced portfolio for travel and tourism. It offers cruises, adventure, medical, wellness, sports, eco-tourism, film, rural and religious tourism.
In 2019, India ranked 34 in the Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report according to the World Economic Forum. But in pandemic times things can change rapidly and unexpectedly.
On August 24, only the Indian Hotels Company Limited (IHCL) estimated that COVID-19 has impacted their business with a net loss of nearly USD $109,200,080.00 only in 2021.
Can these endless travel bans be the end of India as a major travel industry player?
Not necessary. On the latest India’s independence commemoration day Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi encouraged citizens to visit 15 domestic tourist destinations to boost tourism in 2022.
Given the size of the Indian population, domestic travel may help multiple destinations recover from the economic devastations of the pandemic, while ensuring new jobs and protecting livelihoods.
Another positive news is that India surpassed 10 million vaccinations per day on Friday, with national vaccine production 50% higher than in April when they need to stop selling to attend to their own citizens.