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    India plans to resume flights with US, France, Germany, UK via bilateral 'bubbles'

    India plans to resume flights with US, France, Germany, UK via bilateral 'bubbles'

    India plans to resume flights with US, France, Germany, UK via bilateral 'bubbles'
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    By Anu Sharma   IST (Updated)

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    India may soon allow airlines from the US, France, UK, Germany among others to operate flights to and from India for approved categories of passengers.

    India may soon allow airlines from the US, France, UK, Germany among others to operate flights to and from India for approved categories of passengers.
    This is expected to be done by establishing "individual bilateral bubbles" or special air corridors with each of these countries. This can be seen as the first step in resumption of scheduled international commercial flight operations, which have been suspended since March 23.
    Recently, Australia and New Zealand have been in discussions for creating a travel bubble between the two countries.
    Also read:
    The concept of "travel bubble" is gaining significance in the times of COVID-19 pandemic as countries strive to resume connectivity with minimum risk and maximum safety measures in place.
    Today, the union civil aviation ministry said it is examining requests from the US, France, Germany among others to allow their airlines to operate repatriation flights, as per a system similar to Vande Bharat Mission.
    In an attempt to further opening up the air space, the government is also looking to add flights of foreign airlines on routes such as the France, Germany, UK and US on the back of consistent strong demand.
    "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," the spokesperson from aviation ministry said.
    Hours after the US called Air India Vande Bharat flights as "unfair," and imposed restrictions on Indian national carrier Air India citing "competitive imbalance," the ministry of civil aviation issued the statement on concerns from the US and discussions on bilateral bubbles.
    "We have also had one round of negotiations with US on June 15, 2020 with representatives of US department of transportation and US embassy on this issue. They were invited to submit precise proposals in this respect. A communication has now been received on 19 June, 2020 detailing these requests," the spokesperson added in the statement issued on Tuesday.
    As per the US order, Air India will have to seek permission from the US, 30 days prior to operating a repatriation flight date and 10 days prior to operating a cargo flight.
    The US had also noted that while Air India operated 34 round-trip flights per week to the US before the suspension of international flights, Air India will be operating 59 flights between June 10 and July 3, hence it will be operating at 53 percent of pre-COVID schedule.
    "As such, it appears that Air India may be using its passenger repatriation charters as a way of circumventing the GoI-imposed prohibition of all scheduled services," US department of transportation had told India.
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