India expresses disappointment over continued ban on Canada flights

Anirudh Bhattacharyya | August 21, 2021 05:19 PM

The ban was originally imposed on April 22 and was scheduled to expire on August 21, but on August 9, Transport Canada announced it had been further extended till September 21. The April decision had been predicated on concerns over the rising Covid-19 cases in India, particularly the spread of the Delta variant.

In note verbales, or diplomatic communications, sent to Global Affairs Canada, the country’s foreign ministry, India’s high commission in Ottawa stated that the extension had “caused concern and anxiety” among nationals of the two countries seeking to travel between them.

The Canadian government’s ban prevents all direct passenger flights from India.

The Indian government is seeking resumption of those flights and scrapping of the mandatory RT-PCR tests required for travellers from India who transit through third countries.

The ongoing restrictions, it has argued, “adversely affected” nearly 200,000 Indian students looking at starting post-secondary education in Canada and caused “great inconvenience” to the nearly 1.6 million strong Indo-Canadian community.

It said that early return to normalcy in global mobility was in the interest of both countries.

It also pointed out that India has administered over 570 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines, its declining positivity rate and expansion of its testing regime as well the proof of vaccination available digitally via the Cowin app.

It also underscored that the daily caseload in India at this time is less than half that in September last year, during the first wave in India, when direct flights continued uninterrupted between the two countries.

Given that context, it requested Canadian authorities to take steps to remove the restrictions currently in force.

Under a reciprocal air bubble arrangement between the countries, Air India started operating flights from May 2020 and Air Canada since August that year and together accounted for daily flights between India and Canada till the ban came into place in April this year.


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