India has established bilateral Air bubbles with the United States of America, France and Germany. The Civil Aviation Ministry said talks with the United Kingdom are in an advanced stage and similar arrangement in place with UAE till 26th July of this month.
Briefing the media in New Delhi yesterday, Union Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said that bilateral Air Bubbles will be the way to resume international travel amid the Covid-19 pandemic with certain conditions. Mr Puri said the government’s negotiations with three countries are at an advanced stage for establishing bilateral air bubble mechanisms.
He informed that Air France will operate 28 flights from 18th July to 1st of August between Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru and Paris. He said, in case of the United States, there is an agreement with United Airlines to operate 18 flights between India and US between 17th to 31st July but this is an interim one. He said we have also received a request from Germany and an agreement with Lufthansa is almost done.
On the biggest evacuation exercise, Vande Bharat Mission , Mr Puri said, the fourth phase is going on. He said, the first phase of the mission began 7th May to 13th May under which 12 thousand 700 Indians stranded abroad due to COVID-19 pandemic were repatriated. He said, now double of this number of passengers are being brought back per day. He said, till 15th of this month over 6 lakh 87 thousand passengers have been brought under the mission.
Civil Aviation Secretary Pradeep Kharola said taking the sheer number of passengers and all the number of countries covered, Vande Bharat Mission is the biggest evacuation exercise by any civil airline in the world.
Air India CMD Rajiv Bansal said that till 13th of this month as part of the Mission for Repatriation Flights for Stranded Indians, Air India group has operated 1,103 flights and brought back over two lakh Indians and also helped repatriate over 85 thousand individuals.