India asks to lift the ban on direct flights to Canada

India has officially urged the Government of Canada to lift the direct flight ban, which has been in place since April 22, 2021. Canada had restricted India from commencing direct flights due to the severity of Coronavirus cases to the high stage in India. Then onwards, the restriction has kept extending, and the ban has been declared until July 21, 2021, currently until further notice.

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Regarding the uttermost necessity to resume India-Canada flights for students mainly, the High Commissioner of India to Canada, Ajay Bisaria, discussed with Air India’s Toronto representative, Rachel Lawrence. He also had a meeting with Nina Tangri, the Ontario Associate Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction. He brought forward the need to relaunch the flights.  Bisaria also held discussions with representatives of Air Canada.

Bisaria tweeted about the importance of normalizing mobility to strengthen the country’s economy, business, and education. He also thanked Nina Tangri for the meeting in a tweet and further said about India’s anticipation for normalcy in mobility and strong air connection with Ontario.

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According to the World Health Organization (WHO)’s statement that India is in the early stages of the third wave of COVID pandemic, the Canadian government extended the travel ban twice, following the growing concerns and devastating second wave striking India. Though the initial ban was scheduled for 30 days, two additional periods of 30 days were inflicted. The latest prohibition will expire this month until it is extended again by the Department of Transportation. The fears of transmission of Delta variant through air transportation has played a critical role in the travel ban.

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India’s high commission had requested the early relaunch of direct flights under air corridor arrangement last summer, in the form of a formal diplomatic note to the Foreign Ministry of Canada, Global Affairs Canada. The Canadian authorities have been informed about the growing demand and extreme cases of drop-in India. The Indian officials have stressed the inconvenience faced by students who have intake in September and require timely preparations after arrival.

Before April 22, the two national carriers, Air India and Air Canada, were commencing almost daily flights on New Delhi to Toronto and Vancouver cities. Both airlines are likely to resume air services at the earliest.

The travel ban has created great inconvenience to Indian travelers, students particularly.

Recognizing the utmost need for travelers and students, a concrete plan is being drawn to relaunch the flight from India to Canada.

Canada has slightly made changes in its entry rules from July 5. In the first phase, the travel ban has been eased by Public Health Agency. Currently, no mandatory quarantine is imposed for fully vaccinated citizens and permanent residents. The same rules apply to international students, foreign workers holding valid work permits and families, relatives of permanent residents.

•        People who have received full Canada -approved vaccinations don’t need to stay in a quarantine period. So far, Moderna, Astra Zeneca/ COVIDshield, Pfizer-BioNTech, Johnson and Johnson vaccines are approved by Canada.

•        People taking connecting flights to Canada must go through RT-PCR at the final point of departure, for which a negative result is required before entering Canada.

•        Non-vaccinated people or the people vaccinated by the vaccine which Canada doesn’t approve must occupy the hotel for three days as quarantine, undergo the second test on the eighth day of arrival, and self-isolate for 14 days.

•        The proof of vaccination must be uploaded in Arrive Can Portal.

As travel guidelines have been revised, Indian passengers can now fly to Canada via a ‘third’ country route. They need to take the Corona test in the third country before continuing their move to Canada. The passenger who has once been infected with COVID positive needs to prove their COVID test taken between 14-90 days before flight departure, which must be obtained in a third country. The Indian travelers need to stay at least 14 days in the third country.

This has added miseries to Indians traveling for educational, medical, or any other purposes.

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As vaccination campaigns are pacing up and positive cases have dropped below 5% in India, the Indian officials have said that for the population of nearly 20 million, only 50 new cases are found in Delhi daily, while the Province of Ontario has around 150 daily cases at this time. Making comparisons between two main hubs for air corridor, they focused on the recovery of infection rates.

The Canadian government needs to consider the difficulty caused to Indian and Canadian citizens and the factual pandemic data while deciding on the ongoing prohibition for direct India-Canada flights. 

 

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