India Announces Air Bubble: A day after the government announced creating travel bubbles with US, Germany and France, airlines of these countries have been allowed to bring in certain categories of passengers; as well as fly out Indians from here. So far airlines like United and Lufthansa were operating ferry flights (no passengers, only cargo) to India for flying out foreigners from here. Air India on Friday announced a slew of flights to the US till August-end and to Paris and Frankfurt. What’s more, AI is has said it will lower its fares further.
Addressing a press conference, Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said after much negotiation, the country has established individual bilateral bubbles with France and the US to allow airlines of each country in the pact to operate international flights.
“Till international civil aviation can reclaim its pre-COVID numbers, I think the answer lies in bilateral air bubbles which will carry a possible number of people but under defined conditions as countries are still imposing entry restrictions including India,” the minister said at a news conference.
American carrier United Airlines will be flying 18 flights between India and the US from July 17 to July 31 and Air France will be operating 28 flights between Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, and Paris from July 18 to August 1, he said.
“They (United) are flying a daily flight between Delhi and Newark and a thrice-a-week flight between Delhi and San Francisco,” Mr. Puri said.
The minister on Thursday said India is planning to establish a bubble with the UK soon under which there would be two flights per day between Delhi and London. “We have got a request from Germans also. I think the arrangement with Lufthansa is almost done…We are processing that request,” Puri said.
Air France operating from July 18
According to the minister, Air France will start operations with 28 flights from Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru to Paris between July 18 and August 1.
“We are at a very advanced stage of negotiations with at least 3 countries – France, the US, and Germany for air bubble. Air France will be operating 28 flights from Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru to Paris between July 18 and August 1,” Puri said.
Air bubbles with the UK soon
However, the aviation minister noted that India is planning to establish a bubble with the UK soon under which there would be two flights per day between Delhi and London.
“We have got a request from Germans also. I think the arrangement with Lufthansa is almost done…We are processing that request,” Puri said. From India, Air India will be operating flights to France, Germany, and the US under these bubbles.
What is the air bubble?
An air bubble is a bilateral arrangement with a set of regulations and restrictions in which the airlines of the two countries can operate international flights. On July 9, India had announced an air bubble with the UAE that would be in place from July 12 to 26.
Notably, scheduled international passenger flights have been suspended in India since March 23 due to the coronavirus pandemic. After nearly two months of suspension to combat the coronavirus outbreak, the government resumed scheduled domestic passenger flights on May 25.
India-UAE air bubble
According to the Civil Aviation Ministry, the India-UAE air bubble was allowed on July 9 under specific conditions. Charter flights operated by the UAE carriers have been permitted to bring Indian citizens from the UAE to India and carry “ICA-approved UAE residents” on their return leg.
On India to the UAE journeys, all these flights have been permitted to carry only those passengers who are destined for the Gulf country.