In what comes as a ray of hope for international travel, the Ministry of Civil Aviation is considering travel requests from several countries. It is looking at the possibility of establishing individual "bilateral bubbles" like of India-US, India-France, India-Germany, India-UK.
In a tweet, the ministry informed that it has received requests from concerned authorities in several countries including the US, France, Germany among others requesting that their air carriers be allowed to participate in the transportation of passengers along the line being conducted by Air India under Vande Bharat Mission. These requests are being examined, the ministry said.
"We have also had one round of negotiations with the US on June 15 with representatives of the US Department of Transportation and US Embassy on this issue. They were invited to submit precise proposals in this respect. Communication has now been received on June 19, 2020, detailing these requests. As we move from controlled and managed aviation evacuation of our citizens in different parts of the world and foreign nationals from India, we are now looking at the possibility of establishing bilateral arrangements."
Ever since March 25 when India suspended all commercial passenger flights as a nationwide lockdown came into force amid the coronavirus crisis, there has been no decision on reopening of the international flights. However, India began the Vande Bharat Mission May 6 onwards to help stranded people reach their destinations through international repatriation flights. Domestic flights were thrown open from May 25.
"These evacuation flights which were primarily meant for the evacuation of our citizens from all over the world are now increasingly carrying Indians and citizens of other countries outbound to countries where they are normally resident," the ministry further said.
"As we contemplate further opening up in response to demands, we are looking at the prospect of establishing individual bilateral bubbles, India-US, India-France, India-Germany, India-UK. These are all destinations where demand for travel has not diminished. Final decisions pursuant to negotiations are expected to be taken soon."
Quite recently, Union Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri had signalled at reopening international travel once India's domestic traffic reaches about 50-60 percent and other countries open up to international traffic without present conditionalities. In a press conference as well, Puri had said that resumption of international flights would depend on other countries to be open to receive flights. Meanwhile, Civil Aviation Secretary Pradeep Singh Kharola had said both ends should be ready and there has to be traffic if international operations have to begin. "There is a significant amount of traffic between India and the North American continent. We may think of opening flights on a case to case basis," he had said.