“When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return.” Leonardo Da Vinci
As international air travel steadily opens up , rules and regulations for health and safety are constantly being put into place by governments the world over. The procedures in question are modified regularly for ease of travel as well as safety of all those concerned. The entire scenario can be complex to understand – be sure to follow our blog to stay tuned to regular updates in the world of air travel!
Lets start with a Q and A on the kinds of flights operating to and from India …
Q1. The term Air Bubble has been all the rage recently .What exactly is an Air Bubble ?
Ans. An Air Bubble agreement refers to bilateral agreements India has signed or is in the process of finalising with specific countries to allow commercial flights.
Q2. What’s the difference between an Air Bubble flight and Vande Bharat ( repatriation) Flights?
i.The Air Bubble flights are more evolved than the repatriation flights – but not yet back to “normal” scheduling.
ii.Air Bubble agreements also allow for other foreign carriers to operate – e.g. United Airlines between USA and India , Emirates / Air Arabia from Dubai, British Airways from London etc – and not just Air India/ Air India Express.
iii.Vande Bharat flights had fixed prices while Air Bubble airfares are normal dynamic fares.
Q3. So if India has an Air Bubble with a country dies that mean anyone with a visa for that country can travel ?
Ans Wrong . There are still restrictions for some air bubble countries with regards who can travel.
For Eg the Air Bubble to France and Germany – does not still include a tourist or visitor visa. Only certain visa types can travel – people holding long term , residence visas etc
Check this link on who is allowed in France – https://in.ambafrance.org/Travel-to-France-from-India
Q4. How does an Air Bubble affect travellers into India :
i.One major development recently was – Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) card holders from the US, UK, German and France, with whom India has signed ‘air bubble’ arrangements, will be allowed to enter the country.
ii. Foreign nationals of these countries holding certain visas – eg Business visas , health professionals etc will be allowed to enter.
Q5. Which countries does India currently have an air bubble agreement with ?
- UAE – With restrictions to Abu Dhabi
- Canada – students and tourist visa holders that have immediate family in Canada
- France and Germany – Only Certain Visa holders ( Not tourist or visit visas)
- Qatar – Holders of Residence visas
Q6. Which countries are allowing Indian nationals to enter with all types of Visas
Ans. Currently the following countries are applicable.
- United Kingdom
- U.A.E ( With restructions to Abu Dhabi)
Its important to remember in all cases the health and quarantine regulations of the country you are travelling to will apply for all types of travel.
Q7. When will International flight start again like normal ( before lockdown)
Ans. Currently its a wait and watch situation. As per the last update from the Indian Aviation regualtor DGCA – scheduled international passenger flights remain suspended till 30 Sept . They have been suspended since March 23rd .
Meanwhile, special international flights have been operating under the Vande Bharat Mission since May and under bilateral air bubble arrangements with other countries since July.
Q8.Which flights can we book for you ?
1. Students traveling to Canada , UK , USA, France and Germany. ( certain conditions may apply- eg letter from college was required for Canadian students travelling ; approvals from French and German colleges.)
2. Domestic flights around the country ( State quarantine rules will apply.)
3. All types of travelers to UK, UAE, USA and the Maldives.
4. Foreign nationals returning to their home countries with which we have Air Bubbles with (on non Vande Bharat flights.)
5. Non Vande Bharat flights back to India for OCI pax in the air bubble countries.
Here are a few recent important updates
- IndiGo has announced that it would commence international flight services between Kochi and Male under the Air Bubble arrangement. This is effective from September 3. The service is available twice a week — Thursday and Sunday.
- Indigo further updated their roster to include daily flights to and from male Ex Mumbai – starting from 1 October !
- Before travelling to the Maldives – important to note
Effective September 10, 2020; all tourists and short term visitors are required to present a negative PCR test certificate, conducted within a maximum of 72 hours prior to arrival to Maldives.
All tourists are entitled for a 30-day free visa on arrival.
Hotel booking voucher / reservation is required.
Submit your online Health Declaration Form 24 hours before arrival.
Only those who present Covid-19 like symptoms, such as temperature above 38 degree Celsius, coughing and sneezing will undergo PCR test. Random testing conducted by the Maldivian Health Authorities are free of charge.
Please wear mask and maintain social distancing.
- Departing passengers may also need to take PCR test before returning to their home country (including India) ; PCR testing facilities are available at most resorts designated medical center.Remember to contact your hotel concierge upon arrival to arrange the PCR test appointment.
Guidelines for International Arrival and Departures
- Stay updated with all guidelines and SOPS for international arrival and departure on websites on airlines like Indigo and Air India
- Direct notice from the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare ( updated 2 Aug 2020)
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