India-Bangladesh Air Bubble – What You Need To Know

Flights between India and Bangladesh resumed on September 3rd after being suspended for nearly four months. While India continues to ban scheduled international passenger services, flights between the two countries have been allowed to operate under a bilateral air bubble arrangement. This means that travel between India and Bangladesh currently comes with some rules and conditions. Let’s find out more.

India-Bangladesh Air Bubble – What You Need To Know
With the latest travel bubble between India and Bangladesh, carriers from both countries can operate flights to each other. Photo: Md Shaifuzzaman Ayon via Wikimedia Commons

Flights resume

Following the devastating second COVID wave in India, flights between Bangladesh and India were suspended indefinitely in March this year. However, recently, India’s Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) communicated with the Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh that flights can be resumed from September 3rd.

The circular states that carriers of either country are allowed up to seven frequencies a week. Among the Indian carriers, the following frequencies have been allocated per week from their chosen points of origin:

  1. SpiceJet: 3/week
  2. IndiGo: 2/week
  3. Air India: 2/week
SpiceJet 737
Among the Indian carriers, SpiceJet has been allowed the maximum number of flights to Bangladesh at three per week. Photo: Getty Images

Indian carriers deploy narrowbody aircraft to Bangladesh and reached out to the government to allow them to decide the number of passengers they can carry, within reason.  Realizing that different airlines have differently configured airplanes, the MoCA stated,

“…instead of a blanket restriction of 140 passengers per aircraft, it is proposed that the capacity may be restricted to a specific percentage of the installed seat capacity of the aircraft (say 90 percent or 95 percent)”.

Traveling rules and requirements

As with various other travel bubble arrangements, both India and Bangladesh have laid down rules to be followed upon entry. Elaborating on the testing requirements for anyone traveling from Bangladesh to India, the MoCA has stated,

“Passengers traveling from Bangladesh to India shall be mandatorily subjected to self-paid confirmatory molecular tests on arrival at the Indian airports concerned (port of entry).”

The Government of Bangladesh has placed India in a category that allows entry of travelers irrespective of their COVID-19 vaccination status. However, passengers must have an RT-PCR test done within 72 hours of flight departure from India. Travelers are also required to quarantine at home for 14 days after landing in Dhaka.

IndiGo A320neo
Passengers from both countries still require mandatory COVID testing before departure. Photo: Getty Images

Regarding visa requirements, both India and Bangladesh currently issue business and medical emergency visas only. Anyone holding a travel visa is not allowed to enter either of the two countries at the moment.

Sign of things to come?

International flying in and out of India remains heavily restricted following the extension of the travel ban by the government on August 29th. However, this latest travel bubble is one of many that India currently holds with various other countries, and traveling in the recent few weeks has become just a tiny bit easier. While the UK upgraded India to its amber list, the UAE reopened its borders for vaccinated Indian tourists. Of course, crossing borders still comes with rules and requirements, including mandatory COVID testing in most cases.

The India-Bangladesh travel bubble could be a positive sign for trade relations between the two countries. The city of Kolkata, in particular, benefits a lot from Bangladeshi business and medical visitors. Hopefully, this latest travel link is a sign of better things to come.

What do you think of the travel bubble between India and Bangladesh? Have you been personally affected by this announcement? Do share your comments.