On Thursday, July 16, Hardeep Singh Puri the Civil Aviation Minister announced that India has signed bilateral air bubble agreements with France and the US. As per the bilateral air bubble agreement, India will allow international flights from the signed countries.
A bilateral air bubble or travel bubble is a travel passage between two countries. The countries signing this agreement are those who wish to re-open their borders and re-establish travel connections with each other amid the pandemic.
India already signed this agreement with the US and Frane. Moreover, India is considering signing this agreement with the UK and Germany as well.
Due to the coronavirus, international flights are banned till July 31. However, flights from and towards these countries(signed) will be done as per the bilateral agreement.
Moreover, the government has not yet made clear regarding the type of travellers allowed on these flights. However, in India, people holding valid visas will only be allowed.
From 17 July to July 31, American carrier United Airlines will carry 18 flights between India and the US. 28 flights will be operated by Air France between Mumbai, Bengaluru, Delhi, and Paris from July 18 to August 1.
From India, Air India will be flying to the US and France, as per the agreement.
Further, anyone taking these flights amid the pandemic will have to follow the same guidelines of Vande Bharat flights.
Majority of states will implement 7 days of institutional quarantine for passengers arriving from different countries. This 7 days quarantine will be followed by home quarantine which will also be of 7 days.
India’s ‘consideration’ for air travel bubbles comes after the United States restricted ‘Vande Bharat’ repatriation flights being operated by Air India – accusing India of being “unfair,” and engaging in “discriminatory practices.”
To enter the US border, Air India needed authorisation from their government to conduct such flights. France, too, had asked India to fly to Paris without bringing incoming passengers.
The countries that were first to allow free travel within the countries by creating a bubble were Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia. However, they restricted the entry of outsiders.
To revive their hammered economies, many countries are thinking to re-open their flights.