India-UK flights to resume from January 8 in restricted manner, says civil aviation minister

Passenger flights between India and the United Kingdom will resume from January 8, civil aviation minister Hardeep Singh Puri announced on Friday, days after New Delhi stopped commercial flights to the UK after a spike in Covid cases attributed to a more infectious mutant virus.

The initial round of suspension of flights from 23 December was valid till 31 December. On Friday, the minister announced on Twitter that a limited number of flights from four airports would resume.

“Operations till 23 Jan will be restricted to 15 flights per week each for carriers of the two countries to & from Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru & Hyderabad only,” the minister said.

The minister further added that these flights will only operate from New Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru and Hyderabad only. He said, “It has been decided that flights between India & UK will resume from 8 Jan 2021. Operations till 23 Jan will be restricted to 15 flights per week each for carriers of the two countries to & from Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru & Hyderabad only. @DGCAIndia will issue the details shortly.”

Flights to and from the United Kingdom were suspended initially on December 21 over fears of a new mutated strain of the coronavirus which is believed to be more infectious was first discovered in the United Kingdom. The initial suspension of flights was till December 31 but on Wednesday the Directorate General of Civil Aviation modified its order to extend the ban till suspension on international flights till January 31. The DGCA also said that international flights to and from the United Kingdom will remain suspended till January 7.

The flights were suspended based on recommendation by the union health ministry. The government has launched efforts to track down thousands of people who have entered India from UK in the past few weeks. A total of 29 people have been detected with the new UK variant of Covid-19. The new mutated variant is believed to have the potential to affect younger people which forced several nations across the world to suspend its flight operations.

Norway also lifted its flight suspension order with the United Kingdom on Friday. The United Kingdom government on December 30 placed thousands of its citizens under strict lockdown like measures to stop the spread of the mutated variant of Covid-19. The government has strictly warned against travelling during the New Year’s and requested citizens to stay at home.

Health secretary John Hancock said, “With our NHS under pressure we must all take personal responsibility this New Year’s Eve and stay at home. I know how much we have all sacrificed this year and we cannot let up.”

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