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Why countries are suspending flights under Vande Bharat Mission

Why countries are suspending flights under Vande Bharat Mission

Why countries are suspending flights under Vande Bharat Mission
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By CNBCTV18.COMSept 30, 2020 8:40:20 PM IST (Updated)

With the rising Covid-19 cases in India, various countries have suspended flights under the Vande Bharat Mission.

Recently, Lufthansa announced the cancellation of all planned flights to India until October 20. This decision was taken by the German airline after Indian authorities rejected its planned flight schedule for October.

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The fallout between Lufthansa and the Civil Aviation Ministry is not the first of its kind, as multiple countries had suspended repatriation flights under the Vande Bharat Mission.
The central government's ambitious project was introduced to ensure Indians stranded abroad were safely brought home, via special flights when the COVID-19 crisis was at its peak.
Here's a look at why multiple countries suspended flights under the Vande Bharat Mission:
In May, the US Department of Transportation (DOT) announced that it will start scrutinising all repatriation flights from India and would only allow them on a case to case basis. The order from the US authorities claimed that the  Indian government didn’t address American concerns about "restrictive and discriminatory treatment of US carriers".
Moreover, the USDOT alleged that the Indian government prevented US carriers from conducting India-US passenger charter operations involving direct sales to individual passengers or through other distribution systems.
According to ANI, Hong Kong also decided to ban flights under the Vande Bharat Mission for two weeks due to COVID-19 related issues. The restrictions came in effect from August 18 until August 31. Authorities in Hong Kong said that poor pre-flight COVID-19 testing was the reason behind the suspension of flights.
On September 22 Saudi Arabia banned Air India flights for 14 days to India as they carried two COVID-19 positive passengers. The General Authority of Civil Aviation, Saudi Arabia, issued a suspension order to India mentioning the COVID-19 outbreak as the reason.

Indian travellers are likely to be barred from entering South Africa due to a rise in COVID-19 cases. Although the African nation is all set to reduce its restriction policies and resume international travel from October 1.

Currently, India has air bubble arrangements with 14 countries including the US, UK, UAE, Canada, Qatar, France, Afghanistan, Maldives, Iraq, Nigeria, Bahrain, Japan, Kenya and Bhutan. The government is planning to work on a similar air bubble arrangement with several other countries.

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