Posted on Aug 2nd, 2021 by Priyanka Jadhav, Last updated Sep 26th, 2022, 1 comments
The announcement of Air India doubling the frequency of their flights to the USA by the first week of August comes as a huge relief for Indian students headed to the US to pursue higher education. Considering the post Presidential proclamation, when Air India was operating 11 flights per week to the USA in July 2021. The frequency has been significantly increased to 22 flights from August 7th of this year.
The move came into being after the demands of Indian students traveling to US universities for the fall semester surged. Concerned students unable to access Air India flight status took to Twitter to complain about the flights being rescheduled without any notice. Due to the pandemic, 2020 was quite a difficult year for students, and amongst them were many who had plans to study abroad.
Air India stated, “Some of our flights to the USA, including those between Mumbai and Newark, had to be cancelled. Passengers were kept aware of these cancellations which were for reasons beyond our control.” However, Air India also stated that they would operate additional flights between New Delhi and Newark on August 6, 13, 20, and 27. Apart from the flights operated by Air India, the American airlines companies like Delta and United Airlines are also running few flights between the two nations.
The travel restrictions that were foisted by the United States led to a situation where students traveling to the US found themselves with fewer travel options as well as inflated ticket prices. This move also forced airlines to minimize the frequency of India to USA flights. Before the pandemic, Air India operated approximately 40 flights to the USA.
After the international flights resumed in 2020, India and the United States agreed upon a travel bubble agreement. With a sharp drop in the number of Covid-19 infections since the second wave, India has formed air bubble agreements with 28 countries including Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Canada, France, Iraq, Japan, Kenya, Kuwait, the Maldives, Nepal, Ukraine, the United States, the United Kingdom, and the UAE.
Under the air bubble pact, special international flights began operating. On May 4, the US government banned the entry of nonimmigrant travelers who have been present in India into the United States. The ones who were not subject to the Presidential Proclamation were US citizens, lawful permanent residents, immigrants, and students with F-1 or M-1 visas planning to join or continue their academic studies.
In July, the United States also lowered their travel advisory for India from Level 4 to Level 3, allowing US citizens to reconsider travelling to India. The lowering of the imposed travel advisory implied that the US recognized that the situation in India related to Covid-19 has been significantly improving. However, India has again extended a ban on international commercial flights until August 31, 2021 except for the special international flights.
Although at a recently held press conference, Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General advised the Indian government to rethink about the ban as the situation has improved and with proper regulations and safety implementations, international flights should be allowed to operate again. He further stated that this move would have been valid if we were talking about the situation of last year. According to Walsh, India’s aviation industry has an opportunity to recover faster if these regulations are removed, as data showed that India’s domestic air passenger volume fell to 42 percent in April as compared to the year 2019.
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Priyanka Jadhav is a travel writer, who is inclined to explore different cultures and countries. When she is not writing, she is either reading fiction novels or surfing the internet for the next best place to add to her bucket list. Her interests piqued at a young age when she traveled across India and witnessed a variety of cultures, languages, foods, and people. If you're craving for an adrenaline rush, or need an instant travel update - Priyanka has a way with words to help you in every aspect possible. Bring quirky articles and the latest travel updates your way through MyTicketsToIndia, she aims to provide travelers with the necessary information possible.