DECEMBER 11, 2021
New Delhi: In a great news for international travellers, the Indian government has finalized an air bubble agreement with Australia, which will allow all eligible passengers to travel between the two countries, reported the livemint. A bilateral air bubble is a mechanism to resume flights between two nations with pre-conditions during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Australian airline Qantas has recently started flights between Sydney and New Delhi. The airline is also set to start flights between New Delhi and Melbourne before Christmas. Air India also operated direct commercial flights connecting New Delhi with Melbourne and Sydney before scheduled international flights were suspended by the Indian government.
Air India flights between India and Australia will resume in coming days, a senior official with the airline was quoted as saying by the mint. “Australia is an important market for the airline and we expect a good demand,” the official added, requesting anonymity.
Scheduled international flight operations remain suspended
At present, scheduled international flight operations remain suspended at least till 31 January 2022, according to a recent notification by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA). However, dedicated cargo flights, flights under the bilateral air bubble pacts with select countries continue to operate.
Bilateral air bubble agreements with 33 countries
India currently has bilateral air bubble agreements with 33 countries, namely: Afghanistan, Australia, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Canada, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Germany, Iraq, Japan, Kenya, Kuwait, Maldives, Mauritius, Nepal, Netherlands, Nigeria, Oman, Qatar, Russia, Rwanda, Singapore, Seychelles, Switzerland, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, the UAE, the UK, and the USA, Ukraine and Uzbekistan.
Plans to resume scheduled international flights rolled back due to Omicron
India suspended international flight operations, effective 23 March 2020. This was periodically extended every month till 30 November, before the government on 26 November announced plans to resume scheduled international flight services. However, the Indian government on 1st December announced that it had rolled back its plans to resume scheduled international flight operations from 15 December, following the emergence of the Omicron coronavirus variant.