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Why flyers coming to India don’t have to fill Air Suvidha form now

The government cancelled the requirement to fill out the form as Covid-19 cases have seen a gradual decline in the last few weeks. 

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Last week, the aviation ministry announced that the use of masks was no longer compulsory during air travel, while adding that passengers must wear them to prevent another outbreak of coronavirus.

By Tirtho Banerjee: International air passengers flying to India are heaving a sigh of relief as they will not have to fill in and submit the mandatory Air Suvidha form from today.

The government announced the scrapping of the filling out of the form on Monday. The Civil Aviation ministry issued a statement saying: “In the light of sustained declining Covid-19 trajectory and significant advances being made in Covid-19 vaccination coverage both globally as well as in India, the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare has issued revised ‘Guidelines for International Arrivals’.

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Under the revised guidelines, passengers are no longer required to fill in and submit the online Air Suvidha form. Even though the form has been cancelled at present, the rule could be reviewed, if needed, taking into view the ever-changing Covid situation, the ministry said.

WHAT WAS AIR SUVIDHA FORM?

The Air Suvidha form was a self-declaration form that was to be mandatorily filled by all the international passengers arriving in India. In the form, the passengers had to disclose their personal details, vaccination status, including the final dose of Covid vaccination and date of RT-PCR test taken (72 hours before boarding), as well as travel details of the last 14 days, and the passport number along with the email ID.

Passengers, including children of five years and above, had to take the RT-PCR test before boarding a flight back to India. In some countries, these tests are very expensive. In Maldives, an RT-PCR test costs Rs 7,000.

The government had made submission of the form mandatory to check the spread of the Covid-19 virus. It was a contactless self-declaration on the portal.

In August 2020, India launched the Air Suvidha portal. It was strengthened to accommodate travel guidelines issued on November 30, 2021.

WHY HAS IT BEEN SCRAPPED?

In October, the Federation of Hotel & Restaurant Associations of India urged the government to scrap the submission of the Air Suvidha form stating that it was affecting the tourism industry even as the pandemic was under control now.

They had also met Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia and told him that international passengers were facing problems in submitting the form.

Earlier, the use of masks on flights was mandatory. However, last week, the aviation ministry announced that the use of masks was no longer compulsory during air travel, while adding that passengers must use them to prevent another outbreak of coronavirus.

The Covid-19 has seen a gradual decline in India in the last few weeks. According to the figures on November 22, the active cases have declined to 6,209. A decrease of 193 cases has been recorded in the active caseload in a span of 24 hours.

The active cases comprise 0.01 per cent of the total infections, while the recovery rate has increased to 98.80 per cent. The number of people who have recovered from the disease surged to 4,41,32,915, while the case fatality rate was recorded at 1.19 per cent.