Indian Aviation Minister Gives Green Light For US & France Flights

The Indian Minister for Aviation has announced that, beginning tomorrow, bilateral travel corridors will open up between France, the US, and India. Air France and United Airlines will operate a series of flights each to several destinations until August 1st.

Indian Aviation Minister Gives Green Light For US & France Flights
Beginning Saturday, Air France will operate 28 flights from Paris to three Indian destinations. Photo: Air France

Bilateral bubbles

On Thursday, Indian Aviation Minister, Hardeep Singh Puri, announced in a press briefing that international flights in and out of India would be allowed to resume temporarily in bilateral, so-called travel bubbles.

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On Saturday, flights will recommence from France. National airline Air France will operate 28 flights between Paris and Delhi, Mumbai, and Bengaluru between July 18th and August 1st.

United Airlines will operate 18 flights between the US and India starting tomorrow, July 17th, until the end of the month. The carrier will be operating a daily flight between New York’s Newark and Delhi, and a thrice-weekly from San Francisco, also to Delhi.

According to the Minister for Aviation, requests had also been put forth from Germany for similar arrangements. He stated that the Government was currently processing the permissions and an agreement with Lufthansa was “almost done.”

United Airlines will operate 18 flights to India starting tomorrow. Photo: United Airlines

Unlock 2.0

India’s Ministry for Home Affairs had previously stated that international air travel may be allowed on selected routes on a case-by-case basis, as part of India’s reopening strategy called “Unlock 2.0.”

As part of this plan, inter-state and intra-state movement within the country is once more allowed, but international comings and goings remain highly regulated. Domestic tourism is permitted, but travelers to, for example, Goa, must present a negative COVID-test upon arrival.

Emirates already operating

On July 12th, Emirates was once more allowed to commence a series of repatriation flights from the UAE to India. The carrier could operate 150 flights from its base in Dubai to Bengaluru, Delhi, Mumbai, Kochi, and Thiruvananthapuram until July 26th. This reinstating followed a ban from July 4th by the Indian Government on UAE flights.

India has, of course, been carrying out its own massive repatriation effort. The operation known as “Vande Bharat” has repatriated over 680 000 Indian citizens stranded abroad due to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, Mr Puri said Thursday according to Indian news outlet Livemint.

Emirates 777-300er
Emirates is back to operating flights to India after a brief ban. Photo: Emirates

Travel corridors the new normal?

We are bound to see more travel bubbles pop-up as some countries will come to grips with the pandemic – granted of course that there is mutual trust in testing and statistics. These bilateral corridors may also be a result of economic ties simply being too strong to ignore, resulting in agreements even between states that may have yet to demonstrate a decrease in coronavirus cases.

In India, for example, the number of daily new cases keeps increasing and shows no sign of slowing down. So perhaps the reasoning of the Indian Government is that the virus is already widespread enough for arrivals from countries with lower rates to make no difference.

What other travel bubbles do you expect to see pop up across the globe? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.