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Travel Amid COVID-19: What Are Air Bubbles? How Many Nations Have This Set Up With India?

In a desperate measure to resume commercial flights, governments across the globe have introduced "transport bubbles" or "air bubbles". Know everything about it


Even though COVID-19 pandemic has stalled numerous travel plans of people across the globe for months, it still wouldn’t be the same. From temperature checks to maintaining social distance, the travel amid the global health crisis and even after the pandemic is over doesn’t trace back to how carefree it was all before the coronavirus outbreak. As a travel enthusiast, an individual should know about the ‘transport air bubbles’ and the countries that India has this set up with, before planning to go abroad for the long-awaited getaway.

What are air bubbles?

These transport bubbles that have been rolled out by governments rocked by the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, mean that two nations have arranged to and from commercial flights even if international flights are absent. Air bubbles are reciprocal, which implies that both countries enjoy the same benefits. Also known as “transport bubbles” or “air travel arrangements”, these temporary arrangements are a desperate measure by nations across the globe to resume the commercial passenger services.

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Which countries have this air bubbles with India?

  1. Afghanistan
  2. Bahrain
  3. Bhutan
  4. Canada
  5. France
  6. Germany
  7. Iraq
  8. Japan
  9. Kenya
  10. Maldives
  11. Nigeria
  12. Oman
  13. Qatar
  14. Ukraine
  15. United Arab Emirates (UAE)
  16. United Kingdom (UK)
  17. United States of America (USA)

Here are the government guidelines for outbound flights:

  • The category of persons, who will be eligible to travel on these flights, will be as permitted by MHA from time to time.
  • MOCA will display on its website the category of persons eligible to travel out of India
  • Such persons will apply to MoCA or to an agency/ agencies designated by MoCA for this purpose, along with necessary details, including the places of departure and arrival
  • The travel from India shall be on the non-scheduled commercial flights, as are allowed by MoCA.
  • Indian seafarers/ crew seeking to accept contracts to serve on vessels abroad can travel on the non-scheduled commercial flights as allowed by MOCA or the flights arranged by their employers subject to clearance given by the Ministry of Shipping.
  • Before the tickets of such persons are confirmed, the airline concerned will ensure that the destination country allows entry of such persons with a valid visa in that country. The conditions, if any, imposed by the destination country, will have to be fulfilled by the person intending to travel.
  • The cost of travel, as specified by the carrier, will be borne by such travellers as prescribed.
  • At the time of boarding the flight, MoCA will ensure that all travellers undergo thermal screening as per health protocol. Only asymptomatic travellers would be allowed to board the flight.
  • While onboard the flight, required precautions such as wearing of masks, environmental hygiene, respiratory hygiene, hand hygiene etc. are to be observed by airline staff, crew and all passengers

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