India could allow limited international flights with some countries

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on June 23, 2020 Published on June 23, 2020

India is looking at the prospect of establishing individual bilateral bubbles between various countries, including the US, France, Germany and the UK. This will mean that airlines from these countries will be able to operate flights to India and Air India will be able to fly to these countries.

“These are all destinations where demand for travel has not diminished. Final decisions pursuant to negotiations are expected to be taken soon,” the Ministry of Civil Aviation said in a statement.

An individual bilateral bubble will allow flights between that specific country to and from India. For example, the bilateral bubble between India and the UK will allow British Airways and Virgin Atlantic to operate flights to India and Air India to operate flights to the UK.

Incidentally, this concept has already taken off globally.

Earlier this month the New Zealand government talked about introducing a “travel bubble” with Australia through an “air bridge.” Like a bilateral bubble a travel bubble, too, means safe passage for air travellers.

Late last week there were reports in the media that Portugal could become one of the first countries to agree to an “air bridge” with the UK, allowing citizens travelling between both countries to avoid quarantine.

India’s decision on forming bilateral bubbles comes even as a final decision on opening the Indian skies to all foreign airlines is yet to be taken. Foreign airlines are not allowed to operate commercial flights into and from India till the end of this month. There is no clarity on whether the ban on all foreign airlines will be extended at the end of the month.

The Ministry’s statement adds that the bilateral bubbles with various countries are being considered as “we move from controlled and managed aviation evacuation of our citizens in different parts of the world and foreign nationals from India.”

“These evacuation flights which were primarily meant for evacuation of our citizens from all over the world are now increasingly carrying Indians and citizens of other countries outbound to countries where they are normally resident,” the statement adds.

Published on June 23, 2020
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