Restrictions on international flights to and from India to continue till July 15: Hearing on request for direct flight to Kochi on June 29: Chartered flight SOPs updated – UKMALAYALEE

Restrictions on international flights to and from India to continue till July 15: Hearing on request for direct flight to Kochi on June 29: Chartered flight SOPs updated

Friday 26 June 2020 12:44 PM UTC

By A Staff Reporter

NEW DELHI June 26: All scheduled international commercial passenger services to and from India remains suspended till 23:59 Hours IST of 15th July 2020, a circular issued by the Indian government today (26/6/2020) said.

However, international scheduled flights may be allowed on selected routes by the competent authority on case to case basis, added the circular.

On Tuesday, the Ministry of Civil Aviation said it was considering allowing some international carrier flights to resume after the United States accused India of “unfair and discriminatory practices” and restricted Air India’s special repatriation flights.

All passenger flights were suspended when the country went into a lockdown late in March to contain the spread of coronavirus. Although, domestic flights resumed on May 25. 

Meanwhile, according to reports in Times News Network, there is a petition filed in the Kerala High Court from a mother of a 39 year old cancer survivor now stranded in the UK and a 74 year old man from Kottayam, whose wife arrived in London in February on a visit visa and was scheduled to return by June 11. The first petitioner’s husband is critically ill with cancer and is on his deathbed and her son is trying to visit his father. The second petitioner is ailing and needs help in day to day activities and his 68-year-old wife’s routine review consultations with doctors in Kerala are overdue, the plea said.

The Kerala High Court has now asked the central government to respond to the petition seeking direct flights from the UK to Kerala. The court posted the petition for further hearing on June 29.

According to another report a Division Bench of the Kerala High Court on Monday had directed the Central government to produce the files relating to the standard operating procedure (SOP) issued by the Union Ministry of Civil Aviation for operating chartered flights to bring back expatriates.

The Bench passed the directive on a public interest litigation challenging a government order requiring those travelling back on chartered flights to have COVID-19 negative certificate.

When the petition came up for hearing, counsel for the Central government submitted that the chartered flights had to be operated in accordance with the SOP issued by the Centre as well as the State government. The State government had submitted it was insisting on COVID-19 test for those returning by chartered flights from Gulf counties on the basis of the SOP issued by the Civil Aviation Ministry.

The government argued that it issued the directive as there was every possibility of transmission of the disease during flight. There would be heightened chances for transmission of COVID-19 during the four to six-hour-long flights when COVID-free and COVID-afflicted persons travel together. The court posted the petition for further hearing on June 29.

In order to facilitate smooth functioning of operating the chartered flights, the Government of India on Wednesday, June 24 released the revised standard operating procedure (SOP) for operating chartered flights used for repatriation of stranded Indians.

The process will be as follows:
1) The chartering entity (Community Association/Company/Group etc) in Kuwait has to identify an Air Transport Operator (ATO) and provide details of passengers, destination and manifest, to the Embassy of India in Kuwait for examination and processing of Embassy’s No Objection.
2) The ATO will contact the state government of the destination in India directly and share a copy of the proposal and passenger manifest with the state government.

3) State governments will perform necessary internal checks for quarantine availability.
4) ATO will obtain the state government’s written clearance for the flight and Embassy’s No Objection on the manifest. ATO will then contact Directorate General of Civil Aviation for flight clearance.
5) Prior to the actual departure of the flight, ATO must send the final passenger manifest to the Embassy of India in Kuwait, as well as to the concerned state government.
6) The format of the manifest remains the same as shared earlier.
7) Contact details of the state coordinators/nodal officers will be shared with ATOs by the Embassy.

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