Speaking at a press conference today, Hardeep Singh Puri, Civil Aviation Minister said that till the international civil aviation reclaim its pre-COVID numbers and normalize globally, India will rely on bilateral air bubbles for transporting international passengers.
Minister Puri further added that the bilateral air bubbles can carry a possible number of people but under defined conditions as countries are still imposing entry restrictions including India.
Till international civil aviation can reclaim its pre-COVID numbers, I think answer will lie through bilateral air bubbles which will carry a possible number of people but under defined conditions as countries are still imposing entry restrictions incl India: Civil Aviation Min pic.twitter.com/zOLoVN6hQi— ANI (@ANI) July 16, 2020
Government is currently operating Mission Vande Bharat repatriation flights which is in its fourth phase now. While earlier VBM flights were undertaken only by Air India, government has now roped in Spicejet, Indigo and GoAir for international repatriation flights, mostly limited to Gulf Countries.
Hardeep Singh Puri, Civil Aviation Minister said that till the international civil aviation reclaim its pre-COVID numbers, India will rely on bilateral air bubbles.
The scheduled international flights were banned starting March 23 due to Covid-19 lockdown announced nationwide. However, Domestic Flights were announced to resume from May 25, under a calibrated manner.
Currently the Indian government is in talks with the US, Canada, European nations like France, Germany and Gulf countries to start bilateral bubbles for ease in travelling between these countries.
Speaking about the partnership with countries, he further stated that the ministry is at a very advance stage of negotiations with at least 3 countries - France, US & Germany for air bubble. Air France will be operating 28 flights from Delhi, Mumbai & Bengaluru to Paris between July 18 to August 1.
On the recent fiasco with the US, he added, "In case of the United States, we have an agreement with United Airlines to operate 18 flights between India-US between July 17 & July 31 but this is an interim one. We have a request from Germany also & an agreement with Lufthansa is almost done."