India In Talks With US, UK, Canada, Others To Resume Flights Through Air Bubbles: Officials

The Ministry of Civil Aviation had earlier said India is considering establishing "individual bilateral bubbles" with US, UK, Germany and France.

India In Talks With US, UK, Canada, Others To Resume Flights Through Air Bubbles: Officials

India suspended international flights from March 23 amid the coronavirus pandemic

New Delhi:

India is in talks with US and Canada and countries in European and Gulf regions on establishing individual bilateral bubbles which will allow airlines of each country in the pact to operate international flights, said Arvind Singh, Chairman, Airports Authority of India (AAI).

The Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) had on June 23 said India is considering establishing "individual bilateral bubbles" with US, UK, Germany and France.

Mr Singh said, "This morning, I took a brief from the key point person in the ministry who is negotiating with the countries, and he said that we are in constant touch. We are working on a consensus to restart the international flights. This is going to be through air bubbles."

"Talks are mainly going on between India and US, India and Canada, India and Europe and India and the Gulf countries to start flights in these bubbles," he said at a webinar.

Scheduled international passenger flights remain suspended in India since March 23 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Mr Singh said the MoCA official has informed him that the discussion with the countries is at a "very advanced" level and the effort is to restart international flights at the earliest.

"I am sure there would be a positive outcome of the talks with US, Canada and with the Gulf countries and the negotiations are going on," he noted.

The EU has presently banned the flights from India as the number of coronavirus cases are rising in the country, Mr Singh said.

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 the maximum 33 per cent of their pre-COVID flights. The MoCA increased the limits on June 26 from 33 per cent to 45 per cent.

The MoCA on June 23 had said, "As we contemplate further opening up in response to demands, we are looking at the prospect of establishing individual bilateral bubbles, India-US, India-France, India-Germany, India-UK. These are all destinations where demand for travel has not diminished. Final decisions pursuant to negotiations are expected to be taken soon."

Air India started international chartered flights under the Vande Bharat Mission from May 6 to help people stranded due to the pandemic reach their destinations.