30th July 2021

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Indian air bubble arrangements

Although India continues to increase its air bubble colonies, several jurisdictions have begun restricting travel from India due to the high burden of Covid19 cases in the country. However, the general direction that the government is taking in air transport is to lift the restrictions imposed when operations are restarted.

With which countries does India have air bubble agreements?

India currently has air bubble agreements with 13 countries. These are the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, France, United Arab Emirates, Maldives, , Japan, Bahrain, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Qatar, and Iraq.

  • The Center also negotiates these agreements with other countries such as Australia, , New Zealand, Israel, Kenya, the Philippines, Russia, Singapore, South Korea and Thailand.
  • In addition to air bubble flights, Indian carriers travel to these countries as part of Vande Bharat’s mission to repatriate Indian nationals.

What jurisdictions have restricted ?

  • While some countries like Kuwait have a total ban on travel to and from India, jurisdictions like Hong Kong have a continuous suspension of Air India flights to their airport until October 3.
  • Hong Kong had banned Air India flights to Vande Bharat for two weeks after several passengers brought in by the airline tested positive for the coronavirus.
  • Dubai authorities also banned Air India Express flights after the airline carried Covid19-positive passengers on two occasions. However, the emirate lifted the ban after the airline profusely apologized.
  • Another West Asian country, Saudi Arabia, earlier this week announced a travel ban to and from India, as well as Brazil and Argentina, for a large number of cases but then it authorized the repatriation flights of Vande Bharat passengers to India from airports like Riyadh and Dammam.

What are the relaxations that come with air travel?

  • On the domestic front, the government has gradually lifted some restrictions, such as relaxing the limit on the number of flights from 45% of the pre-Covid number to 60%.
  • In addition, on-board catering has been authorized in national sectors. In the latest development on Thursday, the Civil Aviation Ministry allowed airlines to decide on baggage rules.
  • Previously, the guidelines for resuming domestic travel, effective May 25, only allowed one piece of luggage to be checked per passenger.

When should scheduled international flights resume?

  • The resumption of regular international operations remains dependent on destination jurisdictions authorizing travel from India. Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri alluded to how difficult it was to predict when other countries would allow Indians to enter the country.
  • “In our case, we started with a mandatory 14-day quarantine: 7 days in an establishment and 7 days of self-quarantine.
  • Now we have introduced an innovation, if you have a certificate of an RT-PCR test performed within the last 96 hours, you can go through the green channel. We open these things so that we can move towards normality, ”he said.
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