The government of India has announced today that it is planning a resumption of international flight services from India. Initially, flights will begin as per bilateral agreements, which the government has called ‘bilateral air bubbles’, as not many countries are looking to open up their borders.
India’s Civil Aviation Minister, Hardeep Singh Puri, has confirmed that ‘bilateral air bubbles’ have been finalized with France, UK, the US and the UAE. Air France will fly 28 flights from Paris CDG to Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru between July 18-31st, while US carriers like United and Delta will fly 18 flights to India between July 17-31st. British carriers are yet to submit a flight plan and for the time being only Air India will fly between India and the UK. Multiple airlines are set to fly routes between India and the UAE.
Puri also said that the Government of India is in final talks with Germany to resume passenger flights. German flag carrier Lufthansa is, however, yet to file a schedule for approval.
“We have completed agreement with the US, UK, France and the UAE. Negotiations with Germany are in the final stage. Also, there are countries that are interested in restarting flights. We are allowing airlines to restart flights in a limited environment till normal international flights restart,” said Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri.
Rules for foreign travelers entering India are also being put in place. It is likely that senior citizens i.e people over the age of 60 years will not be allowed to fly. Travellers entering India will also have to present a negative result towards a COVID test, no more than 24-48 hours before boarding the flight. A compulsory antigen test will also be conducted upon arrival. If a traveler is found COVID positive on arrival, a mandatory quarantine will be imposed, the cost of which will be borne by the traveller themselves. Other regulations of the departure country will also apply and will be used to decide whether a passenger is fit to fly or not.
Aviation Secretary, Pradeep Singh Kharola, said, “The regulation of the respective country will decide whether a certain category of passengers will be allowed in the country or not.”
These new ‘bilateral air bubbles’ are also being described as a new avatar of the widely successful Vande Bharat Mission. The Government said that the Vande Bharat Mission has been extremely successful and has operated over 1,100 flights bringing back around 200,000 Indians stranded abroad.