Air India is set to operate 170 international flights from July 3 to 15. Official documents have stated that flights will travel to and from 17 countries under the fourth phase of the Vande Bharat Mission. International passenger flights had been suspended from all operations in India since March 23 due to the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic. The Vande Bharat Mission which commenced on May 6 was planned by the Indian government to assist stranded people to reach their native places and desired destinations using special flights.
Documents from the airlines stated that flights will travel to and from the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Sri Lanka, Philippines, Ukraine, Vietnam, Russia, South Africa, Australia, Myanmar, Japan, Bangladesh, Kenya, Saudi Arabia, Kyrgyzstan and Thailand.
The document further stated that 38 flights will operate on Indi-UK routes, 32 on Indo-US routes, 26 between Saudi Arabia and India. The third phase of this plan in which 495 flights operated will end on July 4. However, the US Department of Transportation stated on June 22 that it has barred Air India from its operations of chartered flights from July 22 without prior approval. This was announced after the Indian government declined American carriers from operating between India and the US.
After two months of travel ban due to the coronavirus outbreak, the government on May 25 resumed operation of domestic passenger flights. It added a lower and upper limit on airfares, depending upon the duration of the flights.
Hardeep Singh Puri, the Civil Aviation Minister on June 20 said that the government was deciding on restarting international passenger flights in mid-July. By that time, the domestic air traffic is expected to reach 50 per cent of the levels before the outbreak of the pandemic. The Aviation Ministry on June 23 had said that it planned on establishing "Individual bilateral bubbles" with the UK, the US, Germany and France by permitting airlines of those countries to operate international passenger flights to and fro.
The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on Friday said that the suspension on scheduled international passenger flights will be extended till July 15 with permission given to few services on selected international routes only.