Union civil aviation minister Hardeep Singh Puri on Tuesday said that India has proposed air bubbles with five neighboring countries. The five countries with which India wants to resume commercial flight services are Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Nepal and Bhutan.
Conspicuously, Pakistan is missing from the list.
“Air bubbles have also been proposed with our neighbours 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,” Puri tweeted.
Negotiation going on with 13 more countries
India already has air travel arrangements with the US, the UK, France, Germany, UAE, Qatar and Maldives. The minister said India is taking the Vande Bharat Mission forward and negotiating with 13 countries for establishing such arrangements.
The 13 countries include Australia, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Nigeria, Bahrain, Israel, Kenya, Phillipines, Russia, Singapore, South Korea and Thailand. The ongoing negotiations will benefit stranded Indians & nationals of these countries, the minister said.
What is a bilateral travel bubble?
A bilateral travel bubble refers to a travel corridor between two countries that wish to reopen their borders and re-establish connections with each other.
International flights suspended since March 23
International flights to and from India are under suspension since March 23 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Limited domestic flights have since resumed on certain sectors from May 25. Notably, the Centre has already extended the ban on international flights till August 31.
During the suspension period, more than 2,500 repatriation flights by foreign carriers were allowed to operate. They evacuated stranded nationals to and from India.
Over 7.5 lakh Indians brought back under Vande Bharat Mission
Under the Centre’s massive Vande Bharat Mission, national carrier Air India and its subsidiary Air India Express have evacuated 2,67,436 stranded passengers. Other flights have brought back 4,86,811 passengers between May 6 and July 30.
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