The Civil Aviation Minister of India, Hardeep Singh Puri announced on Thursday 16 July, that India will allow limited flight operations from the US and France. These flights will operate under the ‘Air Bubble’ arrangements made with these countries.
Puri said that India has granted Air France the permission to operate 28 flights to Delhi, Bengaluru and Mumbai from 18th July to 1st August.
Likewise, US-based United Airlines has been permitted to operate 18 flights between 17th to 31st July.
Lufthansa flights to India from Germany will commence under similar measures.
The minister also added an analogous arrangement has been made with the UK and negotiations are in advance stages.
What is ‘Air Bubble’?
In aviation lingo, ‘Air Bubble’ travel arrangements are established between two countries under a certain set of safety and travelling conditions. Conditions include factors like high demand, legal entry and exit norms and airlines’ willingness to operate according to set guidelines.
Air bubbles are methods for nations to control and coordinate travellers between countries affected by COVID-19. These conditions have been introduced to rejuvenate and ameliorate commercial trade and cultural exchange.
UAE Air Bubble
Meanwhile, civil aviation authorities of India and the UAE have consented to special repatriation flights between the two countries. Repatriation dates have been revealed as 12th to 26th july.
According to the agreement, chartered flights operated by UAE carriers that will fly out Indians will be allowed to transport ICA (Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship) approved UAE residents to their native country on their return leg.
Furthermore, repatriation flights by Indian airlines which bring back Indians from the UAE will carry the ICA-approved UAE residents from India to the Gulf country.
Air travel in India
Currently, the suspension on scheduled commercial international flights to and from India has been extended till 31st July.
With regard to the Vande Bharat Mission to repatriate, Puri said that 687,467 Indians have been brought back to India as of July 15th.
Furthermore, the minister mentioned that domestic passenger traffic is 33% of full capacity, which amounts to 100,000 passengers per day.
Nevertheless, he optimistically expected the number to rise up to 60% by November.