Hopping on a flight and travelling anywhere in the world may not be on the cards for a while, but there's some cause for celebration for travellers in India, in the form of 'air bubbles'.
In a recently announced bilateral agreement, India has allowed airlines from both US and France to operate international flights starting Friday.
American carrier United Airlines will be flying 18 flights between India and the US, from July 17 to July 31. Air France, on the other hand, will be operating 28 flights between Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, and Parish from July 18 to August 1. The pact in India will be fulfilled by Air India.
The US carrier will run a daily service between Delhi and Newark, and a thrice a week service between Delhi and San Francisco.
Addressing a press conference, Minister for Civil Aviation Hardeep Singh Puri said, &ldquoTill international civil aviation can reclaim its pre-COVID numbers, I think the answer lies in bilateral air bubbles which will carry a possible number of people but under defined conditions as countries are still imposing entry restrictions including India.&rdquo
The minister added that they have got a request from Germany as well. "I think the arrangement with Lufthansa is almost done. We are processing that request," he added. He warned that there's a need to be careful now that there are many demands for air bubbles. &ldquoWe should permit that many only that we can handle," the minister said.
An air bubble pact involves the opening and sharing of air spaces between two countries willing to admit travellers across borders. All the usual standard operating procedures (SOPs) are in place, of course.
India had suspended its flight operations since March 23 to control the spread of coronavirus. Domestic flights began after two months on May 25 this year.