FAQ| International Flights Under Air Bubble Agreement, Tourist Visa: Travel Queries Answered

For representation purpose only.

As the government is easing the lockdown to open up the economy, more and more people are flying in and out of the country for all sorts of purposes, right from business travel to education travel and even for tourist activity. These steps to ease down the lockdown are listed in monthly SOP guidelines issued by Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).

The recent guidelines under the Unlock 4.0, applicable from September 1 till September 30 states that the scheduled international flights will continue to operate like before in a calibrated manner under the Air Bubble Pact with various countries. Ministry of Civil Aviation banned international flights from March 23 and has been conducting one-of-its-kind repatriation drive to brink back stranded nationals from various countries under the Mission Vande Bharat as air travel across the globe, especially for international flights remains suspended.


However, a couple of months back, MoCA announced that it has established bilateral air bubbles with countries including the US, France, and Germany for easy travelling without much paperwork. The Air Bubble pact has now been extended to 13 countries and passengers who wish to travel to these

countries can refer to the quick guide below to familiarise with the regulations:

WHAT IS AN AIR BUBBLE?

An air bubble is a temporary arrangement between two countries to restart commercial flight services at a time when regular international flights are suspended due to COVID-19. Under the arrangement, airlines from both countries are allowed to operate, unlike Mission Vande Bharat where only Indian air carriers were allowed to operate flights.

Which countries can you fly to under Air Bubble Pact?

India had initially established travel bubbles with countries like the United States, Germany and France. Since then, India has formed agreements with 13 nations in total. Here’s the list:

France

Germany

United States

United Kingdom

Canada

Maldives

UAE

Qatar

Bahrain

Nigeria

Iraq

Afghanistan

Japan

How’s Air Bubble Pact Different from Vande Bharat Mission?

Unlike Vande Bharat Mission, the Air Bubble Pact is a bilateral agreement between two countries to allow flyers travel freely without registering with the government. In Vande Bharat Mission, one has to register their name with the Indian Embassy in order to fly out of a specific country. Also, in Air Bubbles, flights from both the countries are allowed to fly increasing options and reducing prices. Mission Vande Bharat is undertaken only in countries from where no flight is allowed to fly.

IS TOURIST VISA APPLICABLE FOR FLIGHTS UNDER THE AIR CORRIDOR?

Yes, certain countries like Dubai, Bahrain, Afghanistan have allowed tourists to fly into country with certain restrictions. However, majority of flights are still bring out stranded Indian citizens, OCI card holders & diplomats. If the country has not allowed tourist visa, Indian nationals cannot fly to these countries. You need to have a valid visa to enter countries who are not allowing tourist activities.

Will more countries will be added to Air Bubble Agreement?

Hardeep Singh Puri, Civil Aviation Minister earlier announced that India was negotiating with 13 other countries to resume international flight operations. These countries include Italy, New Zealand, Australia, Israel, Kenya, Philippines, Russia, Singapore, South Korea and Thailand.

Are Their any restrictions for flying to Air bubble countries?

Yes, not all countries are allowing visas of all categories. It’s only that under Air Bubble agreement, you don’t have to do additional paperwork like registering online or with embassy to fly in and out of the country. The rest of the travelling remains the same as the pre-covid period, only that state border rules apply. In India, for example, people holding valid tourist visa are not allowed.

Who can travel from India to the USA?

1. US citizens, permanent residents, and foreign nationals holding valid US visas

2. Any Indian national holding any type of valid US visa. It would be for the airlines concerned to ensure that there is no travel restriction for Indian nationals to enter USA with the particular visa category before issue of ticket/ boarding pass to the Indian passenger

3. Seamen of foreign nationalities; Seamen holding Indian passports would be allowed subject to clearance from the Ministry of Shipping.

Who can travel from India to the UAE?

1. UAE nationals

2. ICA approved UAE residents destined for UAE only

3. Any Indian national holding any type of valid UAE visa and destined for UAE only. It would be for the airlines concerned to ensure that there is no travel restriction for Indian nationals to enter UAE with the particular visa category before issue of ticket/ boarding pass to the Indian passenger.


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