Transport Canada has extended its direct flight ban on India until Sept. 21, 2021, according to a release the federal department posted on Monday (Aug. 9).
This particular flight suspension – which originally applied to both India and Pakistan – was first announced on April 22 by Transport Minister Omar Alghabra as COVID-19 cases continued to rise in both countries.
Transport Canada’s Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) that restricts all direct commercial and private passenger flights to Canada from India has been extended until September 21, 2021, 23:59 EDT.
(The restriction on Pakistan has since been lifted).
Cargo-only operations, medical transfers or military flights are not included in the notice.
The deadline for lifting the flight ban on India comes after Sept. 7, which is when the Canadian government plans to reopen the border to fully vaccinated visitors from other countries.
Policy for indirect routes
Transport Canada is also extending the requirement related to third-country pre-departure COVID-19 molecular tests for travellers to Canada from India via an indirect route.
“This means that passengers who depart India to Canada via an indirect route will continue to be required to obtain a valid COVID-19 pre-departure test from a third country – other than India – before continuing their journey to Canada,” Transport Canada said in a press statement.
The Canadian government said it will continue to closely monitor the epidemiological situation, noting that it is working with the Government of India and aviation operators to ensure “appropriate procedures are put in place to enable a safe return of direct flights as soon as conditions permit.”
“While Canada continues to trend in the right direction, the epidemiological situation and vaccination coverage is not the same around the world,” Transport Canada said, reiterating the federal government’s advisory to avoid non-essential travel outside of Canada.
“International travel increases the risk of exposure to COVID-19 and its variants, as well as of spreading it to others,” the agency said, adding that border measures also remain “subject to change” as the epidemiological situation evolves.
The update came on the same day the Canadian government, for the first time in 17 months, reopened its border to U.S. citizens with strict vaccination and testing requirements in place as part of a “phased approach to easing border measures.”
Despite Canada's non-essential travel advisories, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has, at the same time, spoken out about the merits of travelling while fully vaccinated.
“The health data is fairly clear that encouraging or allowing for travel of fully vaccinated individuals is low risk. It’s not zero risk, but it is low risk,” Trudeau said at a press conference on July 27.