As international travel ban continues to be in place, Indians can fly to at least 15 countries as per the "air bubble" agreements established by the Ministry of Civil Aviation.
However, at the same time, a few countries have also restricted entry of flights from India.
What is this “air bubble” agreement? Which countries can flights from India commute to? Here’s all you need to know.
What is a travel bubble? How does the concept work?
A travel bubble or a bilateral air bubble is a travel corridor between two countries that wish to reopen their borders and re-establish connections with each other. This is an exclusive partnership considered between countries that have either largely eliminated the virus, or trust the testing numbers.
With which countries does India have air bubble agreements with?
Since July, India has established air bubbles with:
Bangladesh and Ukraine will start operating flights to and from India from 28 October.
Is India considering to expand the bilateral air bubble?
Yes, the Civil Aviation Ministry has said that it is considering air bubbles with Italy, New Zealand, Australia, Israel, Kenya, Philippines, Russia, Singapore, South Korea and Thailand.
Does this mean international flights to these countries are now operational?
No, while international travel remains suspended till 31 October, flights to and from these countries will be allowed on the basis of this bilateral agreement.
Who is allowed to take these flights?
Only those foreign nationals with a valid visa will be allowed inside India. As per an earlier release, only those people with Diplomatic, Business or Employment and Project visas and OCI card holders are allowed inside India.
Only the following people will be allowed to travel to the destination countries:
Citizens of that country
Indian nationals holding valid visa to the country, with visa validity of three months
Indians having confirmed admission offers, along with visa validity of at least one month
Which countries have suspended flights from India?
Hong Kong has banned flights from India from 17 to 30 October after a few passengers tested positive for novel coronavirus upon arrival. Hong Kong had previously banned flights from 20 September to 3 October and earlier from 18 to 31 August.
Germany, too, had restricted the entry of flights to and from India over disagreement about the number of flights that can operate. However, Air India is set to resume services from 26 October.
What about Saudi Arabia and Dubai? Is there a restriction on these flights?
Dubai and Saudi Arabia had previously banned Air India flights after passengers who traveled in the airlines tested positive for COVID-19.
While Dubai has resumed flights, it has said that COVID-19 results from certain labs will not be considered valid.
Saudi Arabia, on the other hand, has only allowed outbound passenger flights to India under the Vande Bharat scheme.
Do I need to test for COVID-19 before I board an international flight?
This depends on the mandate of the country. These rules keep changing from time to time. It is advisable to check on the embassy website.
What about quarantine in India for international passengers?
This depends from state to state. However, most states in India have disbanded institutional quarantine and have made it mandatory for international passengers to quarantine for at least 7-14 days in their homes.
When will international flight operations resume?
As per 'Unlock 5', international flights are suspended until at least 31 October. The Centre is expected to make further announcements soon.
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