Air travel between India-UK to resume partially from January 8 with 15 weekly flights

NEW DELHI: Flights between India and the United Kingdom (UK) will resume from January 8, civil aviation minister Hardeep Singh Puri said on Friday. However, to ensure stringent following of all protocols, only 15 flights per week will be initially allowed to and from four metro cities, namely Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru and Hyderabad.
“It has been decided that flights between India and UK will resume from January 8, 2021. Operations till January 23, 2021, will be restricted to 15 flights per week each for carriers of the two countries to and from Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru & Hyderabad only. DGCA will issue the details shortly,” aviation minister H S Puri said in a tweet.

When flights were suspended on December 23 due to the new and more infectious Covid strain, 67 flights per week were being operated by British Airways (29), Air India (23), Virgin Atlantic (8) and Vistara (7) between London and 10 Indian cities including Kolkata, Ahmedabad, Goa, Amritsar and Kochi under the air bubble agreement.
Before December 23, almost 2,000-2,500 passenger used to fly to India daily from the UK on these weekly flights (66 from London Heathrow and one from Birmingham). With two flights daily, it will be a challenge for airlines to accommodate the backlog of passengers of the cancelled flights.
However, the restrictions are necessary to prevent the outbreak of the more infectious Covid strain in India. So far, about 30 people in the country have been confirmed to have that strain.
“Flights will resume after being suspended for 16 days on January 8, which means about 140 cancelled flights. Earlier, there were almost 10 flights daily and now there will be almost 2 daily. It will be a challenge for any airline to accommodate passengers. But this needs to be done to control the pandemic and we hope passengers will understand our limitations,” said a senior airline official.
An Air India spokesperson said: “All passengers had been contacted on December 22 and their (previously) booked flights were rescheduled. After (Friday’s) announcement messages and mails have gone to the passengers informing them of the rescheduled date of travel. Passengers who were booked to fly on December 23 will be accommodated on the first flight out.”

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