NEW DELHI: The world could again be an oyster, though a virus-affected one, for desi globetrotters as India allows resumption of scheduled international services from Sunday (March 27).
Foreign airlines have begun resuming/adding flights and started offering connections from their hubs like pre-Covid times and Indian carriers are also spreading their wings.
To be sure, travellers will have to follow country-specific rules which are being increasingly relaxed by the day as Covid eases.
Lufthansa (LH) Group currently has 22 weekly flights on Swiss and LH between Frankfurt, Munich and Zurich, and Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru. It will raise the number of weekly flights to 28 next month; 33 in May when Chennai will be back on the network; 39 in June and 42 by October, said an official.
Malaysian Airlines’ country manager (South Asia) Amit Mehta said the airline “will be reinstating 25 weekly connectivity to key India cities — Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai and Hyderabad. We look forward to welcoming the passengers travelling to Malaysia, Australia, Singapore, Indonesia among other destinations on our network. We will steadily increase capacities to these cities based on demand.”
Air Canada is offering 21 return flights a week to Delhi from its hubs in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver. “India and Canada have strong and close ties and people from both countries are eager to travel to visit family and friends, take a long-delayed holiday or conduct business…. We are the carrier with the most flights between India and Canada and will return to nonstop service between Toronto, Montreal and Delhi, showing our deep commitment to this important market,” said Air Canada senior VP (network planning) Mark Galardo.
Singapore has relaxed entry norms by removing vaccinate travel lane flights from April 1. Comments were sought from other airlines and awaited till the time of going to press.
India-US remains a huge market. Air India — the only Indian carrier operating direct flights between the two continents — is expected to increase flights as it still overflies the Russian airspace allowing flights to take shorter routes.
United reduced flights to India after the Russia-Ukraine crisis as taking longer routes (due to avoiding Russian airspace) means more fuel burn when crude is hovering near all time highs. Delta is yet to resume India flights after March 2020.
“Delta does not operate its own service to India but does codeshare with our partners Air France, KLM and Virgin Atlantic,” a Delta spokesperson said.
A United spokesperson said: “We continue to evaluate and adjust our schedule in response to the evolving situation in Ukraine – we’ve temporarily suspended service between New Delhi and San Francisco and Mumbai New York/Newark and our current plan is to continue flying between New Delhi and Chicago and New Delhi to New York/Newark.”
United is learnt to be keen to resume the suspended flights “as soon as possible”. Its plan through the end of May 2022 is to operate two daily flights from India: Delhi-Newark and Delhi-Chicago with Boeing 787-9 aircraft.
American only has a daily direct between New York (JFK) and Delhi (DEL) that was started last October.