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India’s latest air bubbles: What it means for travellers

By Akshaya Devi - July 17, 2020

India recently established air bubbles with the US and France, but this is not the first time we are hearing about “air bubbles” or “travel bubbles”. While this vaguely means more flights will be resumed, which is a relief for people relying on air travel to return home, how is it different from flights operated under Vande Bharat Mission? Does air bubbles warrant quarantine? Here’s what we know.

To quote-unquote India’s Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri, “Air bubble arrangements with US, UAE, France & Germany are being put in place while similar arrangements are also being worked out with several other countries.” This will create more avenues for people to return home, and here’s how —

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How are air bubbles different from the current repatriation scheme?

And the difference? Right now the repatriation flights are operated by Indian airlines, and an air bubble could mean that airlines from the concerned country will also be able to operate flights to India and vice versa. In simple terms — the more the flights are, the sooner people stranded abroad can return home.

Recently, The Vande Bharat Mission added more flights to the repatriation schedule as follows — read the updated schedule of Air India, SpiceJet and Emirates.

Do I still have to quarantine if I travel by the air bubble?

It depends. Even if you’re travelling by an air bubble, you need to quarantine yourself upon reaching if your destination country has employed such rules.

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Are air bubbles common for all from the respective countries or limited to the nationals of the countries?

Access might not be for everyone. At this stage, air bubbles are more likely to be restricted to Indian nationals or OCI card holders (Overseas Citizens of India).

India’s Civil Aviation Ministry also hints that we are getting very close to the “normal aviation operation” with this and more similar establishments to come.

Read more: Is e-pass required for air travel? How to apply for an e-pass online?