After a two-year hiatus, India will resume regular international flights from March 27, the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) said on Tuesday.
India had suspended the scheduled international flights since March 23, 2020, due to the COVID pandemic.
However, special international flights have been operating between India and 37 countries since July 2020 under air bubble arrangements.
"After deliberation with stakeholders and keeping in view the decline in the COVID-19 caseload, we have decided to resume international travel from March 27 onwards," Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia said, adding that 'with this step, I am confident the sector will reach new heights'.
Air bubble arrangements will also stand revoked thereafter, he said.
In an air bubble arrangement formed between two nations, carriers of each country are allowed to operate a limited number of international flights to other's territory with specific restrictions.
According to the Union health ministry, India on Tuesday reported 3,993 fresh coronavirus infections -- the lowest in 662 days.
In a statement, the MoCA said that international operations from March 27 will be subject to strict adherence to Union health ministry guidelines that were issued on February 10.
'After having recognised the increased vaccination coverage across the globe and in consultation with stakeholders, the Government of India has decided to resume scheduled commercial international passenger services to and from India from March 27, 2022, i.e. start of summer schedule 2022,' it said.
The suspension of scheduled commercial international passenger services to and from India, thus, stands extended only up to 23:59 hrs (Indian standard time) on March 26, 2022, and air bubble arrangements shall accordingly be extended to this extent only, the MoCA said.
Welcoming the government's decision, IndiGo CEO Ronojoy Dutta 'this step will provide impetus to the economic recovery for the (aviation) sector and the nation, with borders opening for tourists'.
Dutta said the airline will soon be announcing the schedule for international destinations, in accordance with the new guidelines.
The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) had on November 26, 2021, announced that India will resume scheduled international passenger flights from December 15, 2021.
Just a day later, Prime Minister Narendra Modi asked the MoCA and the DGCA to review its decision in wake of rising concerns over COVID-19 variant Omicron.
On December 1, 2021, the DGCA revoked its November 26 decision without saying how long the suspension of scheduled international flights will continue.
Amitabh Khosla, India Country Director, International Air Transport Association (IATA) said India's decision to normalise scheduled international flights will support the recovery of the aviation and travel sectors, the economy as a whole, and satisfy the demand for air travel.
"As a next step, we urge the government to consider extending the relaxation in rules for international travel, to passengers from all remaining countries as well. This will allow India to maximize the benefits that aviation can bring to the economy," he added.
IATA represents some 290 airlines comprising 83 per cent of global air traffic.