As per the report of PTI, direct passenger flights between India and China are unlikely to resume in the near future unless Beijing changes its policy of abruptly cancelling scheduled flights whenever some passengers test positive for Covid upon arrival in Chinese airports.
Direct flight services between the two countries have been disrupted since the Coronavirus was discovered in late 2019 in Wuhan and spread throughout the world.
The flight disruption proved to be a major issue for hundreds of Indian students, families of Indians working in China, and businessmen travelling back and forth, despite the fact that Beijing recently lifted the visa ban after about three years.
Following this, approximately 23,000 Indian students, mostly medical students, who had been stranded at home due to China’s Covid visa bans, made plans to travel to China to rejoin their colleges but encountered difficulties due to the lack of direct flights.
In light of the high demand, flights through third countries were exorbitantly priced.
However, over 100 Indian students are said to have returned to China in recent weeks via third-country routes, particularly via Hong Kong.
According to informed sources here, given the improbability of flights resuming, Indians are advised to travel through Hong Kong, which has daily connectivity from India. They can then fly to Chinese cities, where they must undergo a seven-day quarantine.
Passengers from India are currently travelling to China via Sri Lanka, Nepal, and Myanmar.
Even after the ruling Communist Party’s 20th Congress, which begins here on October 16, China is unlikely to change its Zero Covid policy.
In recent months, China has mostly cancelled flights to almost all countries in 2020 and has begun allowing limited flight services from some South Asian countries, including Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Pakistan.
However, these flights are subject to cancellation for a specified period if any passenger on the incoming flight tests positive upon arrival at Chinese airports.
According to the sources, India and China have been in talks for several months to resume limited flight services, but the talks have failed to move forward due to Beijing’s insistence on the flight cancellations rule affecting Covid passengers.
According to the sources, the airlines are having difficulty complying with the rule because they are not in charge of conducting the Covid-19 tests, which are required for all passengers travelling to China.
The Chinese Embassy in India conducts Covid tests at designated centres, and the “green code” to travel by flight is provided by the Chinese mission, without which passengers cannot board the flight, they said.
The airline has no say in the matter, but it will bear the brunt of cancellations for several days if some passengers are found to be positive upon arrival, according to the sources.
As a result, they believe that direct flights between India and China are unlikely to resume unless Beijing changes the rule, as the talks have become bogged down on this issue.