India negotiating air bubble arrangements with 13 more countries: Hardeep Puri

Aug 18,2020

Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri on Tuesday announced that India is negotiating with 13 more countries to establish bilateral air bubble arrangements for international flights. 

Under a bilateral air bubble pact, airlines from both counties can operate international flights with certain restrictions. 

Hardeep Singh Puri said that air travel arrangements are in place as India has already established bubbles with countries such as the USA, UK, France, Germany, UAE, Qatar and the Maldives since July. 

"We continue to further strengthen the reach & scope of VBM (Vande Bharat Mission). Air Travel arrangements are already in place with USA, UK, France, Germany, UAE, Qatar & Maldives," he said.

Puri, in a Twitter thread, added that the Aviation Ministry is taking efforts to negotiate with 13 more countries to establish such arrangements.

"These countries include Australia, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Nigeria, Bahrain, Israel, Kenya, Philippines, Russia, Singapore, South Korea & Thailand,” he said.

Puri said that air bubbles have also been proposed with neighbouring countries such as Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Nepal & Bhutan. 

“Going forward, we will consider such arrangements with other countries also. It is always our endeavour to reach out to every stranded citizen. No Indian will be left behind,” he said. 

He added that ongoing negotiations will benefit stranded Indians and nationals of these countries.

Due to the coronavirus-triggered lockdown, India temporarily suspended domestic passenger flights in March, and resumed them after a gap of two months on May 25. 

The average occupancy rate in Indian domestic flights, however, has been low at just around 50-60% since then. 

In the current scenario, the airlines in India are permitted to operate only 45% of their pre-COVID domestic flights. 

Due to the travel restrictions imposed in India as well as in other countries in view of the coronavirus pandemic, the aviation sector has been impacted significantly. 

All airlines in India have therefore taken cost-cutting measures such as pay cuts, leave-without-pay and have even laid off employees in order to conserve cash.

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