Union Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri on Thursday addressed the resumption of international flights in the country saying that bilateral air bubbles was the only way to go forward. A bilateral air bubble is when specific countries mutually decide to open the travel corridor between them, based on understanding and partnership. Such an operation has already been established between India and the UAE, while negotiations are underway with countries like the US, France and Germany.
“Bilateral air bubbles is the way forward to establish international flight connectivity. These will be present until international aviation becomes normal. Many countries still have travel restrictions. We will operate in air bubbles,” said Hardeep Puri.
Owing to the prevailing Coronavirus situation in the world, most countries have shut down their airspace banning inbound flights in their countries. India has also suspended all international flights following the announcement of its first lockdown on March 24. Given these circumstances, a bilateral air bubble would need to be set in place between India and the respective countries to re-open and resume international air travel.
Our negotiations are at an advanced stage with 3 countries. Air France will operate 28 flights from July 18 to Aug 1 b/w Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru & Paris. US will be flying 18 flights b/w July 17-31 but this is an interim one. We have request from Germany too: Civil Aviation Min pic.twitter.com/J4olL7lPmT— ANI (@ANI) July 16, 2020
‘Air travel with France and US to resume’
“We are 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 and Bengaluru to Paris between July 18 to August 1. In the case of the United States, we have an agreement with United Airlines to operate 18 flights between India-US between July 17 and July 31 but this is an interim one. We have a request from Germany also & an agreement with Lufthansa is almost done,” said Puri.
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Earlier Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri had hinted that international flights would resume when domestic traffic reaches about 50-60% and other countries also open up to international traffic. In his latest statement on June 23, Hardeep Singh Puri said, “This morning, I took a brief from the key point person (from the MOCA) who is negotiating with the countries, and he said that we are in constant touch. We are working on a consensus to restart international flights. This is going to be through air bubbles.”
After the successful operation of Vande Bharat mission, under which thousands of Indians were brought back home, civil aviation sources reveal that airlines are ready to take the next leap forward.
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