New Delhi: The ministry of home affairs (MHA) on Saturday issued Standard Operating Protocol (SOP) for international travel on non-scheduled commercial flights under the Vande Bharat Scheme and Air Transport Bubble arrangement.
According to the SOP, persons wanting to travel to India on Vande Bharat flights will register themselves with the Indian missions in the country where they are stranded/residing, along with necessary details as prescribed by the ministry of external affairs (MEA).
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While people coming to India on flights operating under air-bubble arrangements will not need to register themselves with the Indian missions.
India so far has bilateral air travel arrangements or air bubbles with the US, the UK, Germany, France, Qatar, Maldives, and the UAE while negotiations are going on with 13 more countries.
The Vande Bharat flights have been operating since May 6 and currently, the Scheme is in Phase 5. Only those crew and staff who have tested COVID-19 negative will be allowed to operate these flights and ships.
The SOP issued on Saturday said that priority will be given to compelling cases in distress, including workers who have been laid off, short term visa holders faced with the expiry of visas, persons with a medical emergency, pregnant women, elderly persons or those required to return to India due to death of family members and students.
For inbound passengers, MEA will prepare flight/ship wise database of all travellers, including details such as name, age, gender, mobile number, place of residence, place final destination, and information on RT-PCR test taken and its result. “This database will be shared by MEA with the respective state/UT in advance (where the passenger is heading),” the SOP reads.
It said that “in case of people travelling to India under air-bubble arrangement, passenger manifest containing the same details as above for Vande Bharat flights or in a revised format as may be finalized by the MEA with the country concerned, will be submitted by the airlines to the Indian mission in the country concerned before operation of each flight with a copy to the state/UT government of the destination port in India”.
All travellers coming to India will have to give an undertaking that they are making the journey at their own risk, according to the SOP.
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In case of people wanting to travel out of India under these two programs, they will have to apply to ministry of civil aviation (MoCA) or to an agency designated by MOCA for this purpose, along with necessary details, including the place of departure and arrival, the SOP issued on Saturday said.
It said that Indian seafarers seeking to accept contracts abroad to serve on vessels abroad can travel on the non-scheduled commercial flights as allowed by the civil aviation ministry or the flights arranged by their employers subject to clearance given by ministry of shipping.