International travel resumes via 'air bubbles': Who's allowed and who's not
International travel resumes via 'air bubbles': Who's allowed and who's not

The Ministry of Civil Aviation, India has announced transport bubbles with USA, France and Germany for commercial passenger movement.

In addition to Indian carriers, the carriers from these countries are now permitted to operate services between India and their respective countries.

What is an air bubble?

“Transport Bubbles” or “Air Bridges” 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. They are reciprocal in nature, meaning airlines from both countries enjoy similar benefits.

Who can fly?

Inbound Flight:

  • Stranded Indian nationals, and

  • Foreigners (including diplomats and OCI cardholders), who are eligible to enter India as per Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA)

Outbound flights

  • Indian nationals who are permitted to travel abroad as per MHA guidelines dated 01.07.2020 and holding valid US visas

  • US citizens, legal permanent residents, and foreign nationals holding valid US visas

  • Indian nationals who are permitted to travel abroad as per MHA guidelines dated 01.07.2020 and destined for EU.

  • Seamen of foreign nationalities; Seamen of Indian origin would be allowed subject to clearance from the Ministry of Shipping.

  • Stranded EU nationals/residents, foreign nationals destined for EU and transiting through France or Germany (as applicable) or spouses of these persons, whether accompanying or otherwise.

  • Indian nationals with visas of at least one-month validity other than tourist visas.

Operating airlines:

As per the information by Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Puri Air India, United Airlines, Air France and Lufthansa are operating flights to and from India under this arrangement.

How many flights are operating?

Air India will be operating near about 222 flights to the US, France, and Germany between July 22 and August 31.

Air France is operating 28 flights between Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru and Paris from July 18 to August 1 while American carrier United Airlines is flying 18 flights between India and the US from July 17 to July 31. Similar arrangements with Germany and the UK will soon be permitted.

Quarantine guidelines:

As per the government mandate, passengers arriving at Delhi airport by international flight with no onward connection must undergo seven days institutional quarantine at their own cost, followed by seven days of home quarantine.

All passengers will have to undergo the mandatory health screening which includes a primary screening by Airport Health Officials (APHO). This includes thermal temperature screening by discreetly mounted, highly accurate, mass screening cameras.

The travellers who are planning to stay on in Delhi-NCR will also be required to undergo a secondary screening at the Delhi government post after which they will be allowed to proceed to the approved quarantine location, another official said.

The officials from Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan and Uttarakhand are positioned at the separate triage facilities created at ''Meeters & Greeters'' area and passengers belonging to these states should report directly at the respective state post, the official said.

Passengers upon arriving at the first airport of disembarkation in India are advised to be quarantined at the city of arrival.Passengers seeking exemption will need to fill an exemption form and discuss their case with government officials (in the ''meet and greet'' corridor) inside the terminal on arrival.

If exemption from quarantine in Delhi is approved and their final destination is another state they must make arrangements for quarantine on arrival in the respective state with the government officials.

At the Delhi airport, passengers may be considered for exemption only if they fall into one of the four exemption categories. They are: pregnant women, suffered a death in the family, suffering from serious illness (description to be provided), and parents accompanied by children below 10 years.

Documents required for consideration of exemption requests include a medical certificate, death certificate, copy of passport, and ticket for next flight, the official said.

Passengers of Air France flights to Bengaluru under 'air bubble' arrangement agreed between the two countries need to undergo Rapid Antigen Test for COVID-19 and only those who are negative would be allowed to board, the Embassy of India in France said here on Monday.

(with inputs from agencies)

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