India to resume limited overseas flights to US today, other nations soon

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India has finalised talks with the US, France, and is in final stages of discussion with Germany to resume limited international flights under ‘bilateral air bubbles’, Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said at a press conference on Thursday.
Indian private carriers will also be given an opportunity to fly on such long-haul routes, provided they operate wide-body aircraft for such flights, the minister said.
Bilateral air bubbles is a mechanism to resume international flights between India and other countries with certain pre-conditions, which regulate movement in view of the current Covid-19 pandemic, Civil Aviation Secretary Pradeep Singh Kharola, present at the same press meet, said.
International flights to and from India have been suspended since March, as various countries went into lockdown to prevent the spread of Covid-19. State-owned Air India has, however, carried out flights to bring stranded Indians home.
According to the agreement with France, Air France will operate 28 flights to Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru from Paris between July 18 and August 1, while Air India will operate 13-14 flights to Paris during the same period, Puri said. Following the conclusion of such an agreement with Germany, Lufthansa will also operate flights between the two nations.

“The whole idea of an air bubble is that you are at a stage short of normal civil aviation activities, which depend on several factors like the virus, demand situation, and the number of flights that are being allowed to operate by major cities,” Puri said.
In the interim, India has agreed to allow flights between the US and India with United Airlines operating 18 flights between July 17 and July 31, Puri said.
“We are planning two flights a day between Delhi and London. I have had discussions with my counterpart in the British government,” he said.
The minister said with increased participation of airlines on international operations from India, air fares on international routes are expected to come down as compared to fares charged for repatriation flights.
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