Flights to Kolkata Airport Banned Till July 19 from 6 Cities Including Delhi and Mumbai, Banned from July 6-19

Passengers wanting to travel to Kolkata from July 6 to July 19 will have to reschedule their calendars if they belong to one of these six cities – Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, Nagpur, Chennai and Ahmedabad -- after flight operations from these cities was suspended.

The six cities have a heavy load of coronavirus cases and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had earlier written to the Center seeking suspension of flight operations to and from these places.

The official Twitter handle of the Kolkata Airport on Saturday made the announcement, saying no flights will operate to the West Bengal capital from Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, Nagpur, Chennai and Ahmedabad from July 6-19.

According to sources, the Ministry of Civil Aviation has already notified the airlines about the suspension.

The West Bengal government had requested the ministry to suspend flight services to the state from COVID-19 hotspots like Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, Nagpur, Chennai, Indore, Ahmedabad and Surat for two weeks from July 6.

Expressing concern over the rise in the number of COVID-19 cases, West Bengal Chief Secretary Rajiva Sinha had written to ministry secretary PS Kharola and requested him to consider the concern raised by the state government.

The ban by the Kolkata Airport comes after aviation regulator DGCA on Friday extended the suspension of scheduled international passenger flights in the country till July 31. However, it added that some international scheduled services on selected routes may be permitted on a case to case basis.

India is in talks with the US, Canada and countries in the European and Gulf regions to establish "individual bilateral bubbles" which will allow airlines of each country in the pact to operate international flights, said Airports Authority of India chairperson Arvind Singh on Thursday.

The Ministry of Civil Aviation (MOCA) said on June 23 that India is considering establishing "individual bilateral bubbles" with the US, the UK, Germany and France. Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said on June 20 that the government will start thinking on the resumption of scheduled international passenger flights in mid-July when it expects the domestic air traffic to reach 50-55 per cent of the levels before the coronavirus.

After nearly two months of suspension to combat the coronavirus pandemic, the government resumed scheduled domestic passenger flights on May 25. However, it had allowed airlines to operate a maximum of 33 per cent of their pre-COVID flights. The MOCA increased the limits on June 26 from 33 per cent to 45 per cent.

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Air India and other private domestic airlines have been operating unscheduled international repatriation flights under the Vande Bharat Mission, which was started on May 6 by the Central government.

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