Passengers in nations that have "air transport bubble" agreement with India may not need to register with Indian missions before taking a flight to the country, the Home Ministry said in a notification today on air travel guidelines amid the coronavirus pandemic.
"Air transport bubbles" are temporary arrangements between two countries aimed at restarting commercial passenger services when regular international flights are suspended as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
India has air transport bubble agreements with over six nations, including the US, the UK, France and Germany. Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri has said India is negotiating for such agreements with 13 more nations.
"Persons desirous of travel to India on Vande Bharat flights, will register themselves with the Indian Missions in the country where they are stranded/residing, along with necessary details as prescribed by MEA (Ministry of External Affairs). Such a registration may not be required on flights operating under Air Transport Bubbles arrangements," the Home Ministry said in the notification today.
The announcement for air transport bubbles on July 17 came weeks after the US threatened to take action, accusing India of "unfair and discriminatory practices" for running exclusive paid flights under the "Vande Bharat Mission" to bring back Indians from other countries.
Scheduled international passenger flights have been suspended in India since March 23 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
After nearly two months of suspension to combat the coronavirus outbreak, the government resumed scheduled domestic passenger flights on May 25.
However, it had then allowed the airlines to operate maximum 33 per cent of their pre-COVID domestic flights. The Civil Aviation Ministry increased the limits on June 26 from 33 per cent to 45 per cent.