India has established individual bilateral ‘air bubbles’ with France and U.S. that will allow airlines of each country to operate international flights, Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said on Thursday, adding that similar arrangement with Germany will soon be reached upon.
Air France will be operating 28 flights between Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru and Paris from July 18 to Aug. 1, the minister said at a press conference. American carrier United Airlines will be flying 18 flights between India and the U.S. from July 17 to July 31.
“They (United) are flying a daily flight between Delhi and Newark and a thrice-a-week flight between Delhi and San Francisco,” Puri noted.
The minister said India is in talks to establish a bubble with the U.K. under which there would be two flights per day between Delhi and London.
“We have got a request from Germans also. I think the arrangement with Lufthansa is almost done…We are processing that request,” Puri said.
“Now we have many demands for air bubbles, but we need to be careful. We should permit that many only that we can handle,” the minister noted.
From India, Air India will be operating flights to France and U.S. under these bubbles.
An air bubble is a bilateral arrangement with a set of regulations and restrictions in which the carriers of the two countries can operate international flights.
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% of their pre-Covid domestic flights. The civil aviation ministry increased the limits on June 26 from 33% to 45%.
“We are assuming that by the time Diwali comes this year, we would have 55-60% of pre-Covid domestic flights operating in India,” Puri said at the press conference.
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