On Thursday, Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said that India has established individual bilateral 'air bubbles' with France and the US that will allow airlines of these countries to operate flights. Air bridges or air bubbles would be the way to resume international air travel amid the COVID-19 pandemic, he said.
"Till international civil aviation can reclaim its pre-COVID numbers, I think answer will lie through bilateral air bubbles which will carry a possible number of people but under defined conditions as countries are still imposing entry restrictions incl India," he said.
Air bubbles or bridges is an arrangement based on reciprocity with the said countries wherein Indians will be allowed to enter the countries in return for India receiving citizens of those countries.
The services will carry people under defined conditions as countries are still imposing entry restrictions, including India, Puri said. He added that Air France would be operating 28 flights between Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru and Paris from 18 July to 1 August while American carrier United Airlines would be flying 18 flights between India and the US from 17 July to 31 July.
"They are flying a daily flight between Delhi and Newark and a thrice-a-week flight between Delhi and San Francisco," Puri said.
The minister further said India was planning to establish a bubble with the UK and Germany as well.
Scheduled international passenger flights have been suspended in India since 23 March due to the coronavirus pandemic.