After a gap of nearly 4 months, limited international flights would be allowed to and from India under the “Air Bubble” travel arrangements.

So what is “Air Bubble” arrangement?

“Air Bubble” travel arrangements are established between two nations under a certain set of travelling and safety conditions such as legal entry and exit norms, high demand and the willingness of airlines to operate on these sectors. Keeping in mind the COVID-19 pandemic, the entire world was practically in one huge lock-down. The process of unlocking has begun to restore trade and commerce and this procedure requires the re-operation of airlines. Thus “Air Bubble” management is done to restore international communication ensuring the safety of people.

What are the Current “Air Bubble” Management Strategies?

Under the “Air Bubble” arrangement, limited flights will be allowed to operate between India and the US and France. The flights will also operate under certain conditions.

Under this arrangement, Air France will operate 28 flights between Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru and Paris from July 18 to August 1 and United Airlines, an airline from the US will resume a total of 18 flights between the US and India. Besides the US and France, the Lufthansa flights to India will commence under these arrangements with Germany.

Presently, the civil aviation authorities of the UAE and India have agreed to allow special repatriation operations between these two countries from July 12 to July 26. As per this arrangement, the chartered flights which are operated by the UAE carriers, to bring out Indians from the UAE, will be allowed to carry ICA (Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship) approved residents of the UAE to their native nation on the return leg. Further, the Indian airlines operating repatriation flights to bring Indians back from the UAE; will be allowed to carry the ICA approved residents of the UAE on their journey from India to the Gulf countries.

Under the current coronavirus crisis, the suspension on the operations of scheduled commercial international flights to and from India has been extended till July 31, 2020. The scheduled international flights in India were suspended from March 23 due to the coronavirus outbreak. The scheduled domestic passenger flights were resumed for operation from May 25 after nearly two months of suspension to combat the outbreak and prevent the mass spread of infection.

However, the government allowed the airlines to operate with a maximum of 33 per cent of their pre-COVID domestic flights. On June 26, the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MOCA) increased the limits from 33 per cent to 45 per cent. Puri stated at a press conference, “We are assuming that by the time Diwali comes this year, we would have 55 to 60 per cent of pre-COVID domestic flights operating in India.” He also added that once the domestic capacity reaches 50 to 55 per cent of its capacity before the COVID-19 outbreak, the government will get confidence in reassuming international air travels. The minister also mentioned that international flights will operate between bigger metros of India and locations outside India.

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