Indians can now fly to 18 countries, with the Ministry of Civil Aviation establishing “air bubble” arrangements with two more countries — Ukraine and Bangladesh — this week even though regular international flights remain banned as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
However, a number of jurisdictions and nations like Hong Kong and Germany have suspended flights with India over Covid-19 cases and schedules respectively. Special international flights have been operating under the Vande Bharat Mission since May and under bilateral air bubble pacts signed with various countries since July.
What is an air bubble/travel bubble?
Aimed at restarting commercial passenger services, air bubbles are temporary reciprocal arrangements between two countries that allow international passenger flights to fly passengers either way without any restrictions. This helps in averting a host of quarantine and Covid-19 testing rules in arrival destinations. This type of arrangement is established between two countries that perceive each other to be safe.
It is different from repatriation flights, which are only one way and the passengers have to register themselves with the embassy to board such flights.