India on Wednesday said it signed air bubble agreements with two more countries taking the total number of nations, with which these temporary arrangements are formed, to 15. Indians will soon be able to take special international passenger flights to and from Kenya and Bhutan to destinations in India along with 13 other nations with which such pacts are already in place. Also read: Unlock 5: International Air Travel, Except Those Permitted by MHA, to Remain Shut Till Oct 31
Afghanistan, Bahrain, Canada, France, Germany, Iraq, Japan, the Maldives, Nigeria, Qatar, the UAE, the UK, and the USA are the other countries with whom India has already formed bilateral air bubble agreements until September 17.
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India’s Ministry of Civil Aviation describes air bubbles as “Transport Bubbles” or “Air Travel Arrangements” which are temporary arrangements between two countries aimed at restarting commercial passenger services when regular international flights are suspended as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. They are reciprocal in nature, meaning airlines from both countries enjoy similar benefits”.
Reaching out to stranded Indians.
In order to further boost bilateral international air connectivity Air Bubble arrangements are now in place with Kenya & Bhutan.Indian carriers will be able to operate to these countries. Carriers of these countries will be able to fly to India.
— Hardeep Singh Puri (@HardeepSPuri) September 30, 2020
It is to be noted that the flights which have resumed for now are not the normal and regular scheduled flights that were shut down in March earlier this year. These are all special flights allowed to operate under special guidelines. The flyers will have to abide by the rules and regulations of the destination country. Hence, the resumption of the international is not for vacations.
Under a bilateral air bubble pact, airlines of both countries can operate international flights with certain restrictions.
Last month, he had also said that India was negotiating with 13 countries, including Australia, Japan, and Singapore, to establish separate bilateral air bubble arrangements for international flight operations.
Since July, India has established such bubbles with the following countries – the US, the UK, France, Germany, the UAE, Qatar, and the Maldives.
Notably, India has suspended all international flights in March before imposing a nationwide lockdown to check the spread of coronavirus. India is operating these special flights under the Vande Bharat Mission to repatriate stranded Indians from abroad.