The ban on international commercial flights operating to and from India has been extended till midnight September 30. The ban was earlier scheduled to end tonight.

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has said the restrictions will not apply to international all-cargo flights and flights especially approved by the regulator. However, the DGCA circular says that international scheduled flights may be allowed on select routes by the competent authority on a case-to-case basis.

Commercial international passenger flights have been banned since March 25 this year because of the pandemic.

The government has, however, established air bubbles with Germany, US, UK, France and the UAE, among others, to allow the designated carriers of these countries to fly into India and carry back passengers. Indian private carriers and Air India have been operating flights to take Indians and foreigners to various parts of the world. The government is in negotiations with 18 more countries including Australia, Japan, Thailand and Singapore for starting air bubbles.

The government has also launched the Vande Bharat mission, which has seen Air India and private airlines bring back more than 12 lakh Indians stranded abroad in five phases. In the fifth phase, around 500 international flights and 130 domestic feeder flights were operated from 22 countries reaching 23 airports across the country.

The sixth phase of VBM is scheduled to begin on September 1.