The past week brought signs of good news for all those who have been desperately waiting for international travel to resume.
In a significant development that could result in other countries following similar measures, the US government on September 20 said it will allow travellers fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to enter the country from November.
This would mean that travel to the US will no longer be restricted to students, professionals or US residents and there will also be relaxation as far as quarantine is concerned.
As per the latest mandate, passengers will be required to show proof of being fully vaccinated before boarding the aircraft for the US and complete a pre-departure COVID-19 test within three days before flight departure.
Simultaneously other countries such as Thailand and UAE have also opened up for Indian tourists with minimum conditions. The Maldives continues to be a popular spot since it reopened for tourists from July 15.
The strong expectation for international travel demand is also visible with the recently launched Delhi-Paris connection by the Indian full-service carrier Tata SIA Airlines, which operates as Vistara. The airline has announced the launch of a Delhi-Paris flight, a bi-weekly connection, via its Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner from November 7.
However, there are a few countries like the UK where some "technical" issues are yet to be resolved for travel to become smoother.
While the UK clarified that it recognises Covishield as it is a formulation of Oxford's AstraZeneca vaccine but it is yet to recognise India’s Cowin certificate, which is proof of vaccination. Both sides maintain that discussions are underway to resolve technical issues.
The most recent Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) circular bans scheduled international passenger flights until September 30 except cargo flights and those flights allowed under air travel bubble arrangements.
If the momentum regarding the easing of travel and visa restrictions continues globally, on the back of vaccine passports or verified proof of completed vaccination, one may expect some positive development from the Indian aviation regulator as well in the near future.
(Edited by : Kanishka Sarkar)