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International flights can resume through bilateral air bubble, talks in advanced stage with 3 countries: Puri

DNA logo DNA 16-07-2020 (DNA Web Desk)

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(Video by The Economic Times)

International flights can resume through bilateral air bubbles between countries till the situation returns to normalcy, Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said on Thursday. 

India had suspended all international flights in March before it imposed a nationwide lockdown to check the spread of coronavirus. It, however, has been operating special flights under the Vande Bharat Mission to repatriate Indian citizens stuck across various countries. 

a large passenger jet sitting on top of a tarmac at an airport © Provided by DNA

"Till international civil aviation can reclaim its pre-COVID numbers, I think the 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 including India," Puri said at a media briefing on Thursday. 

On the negations with various countries over air bubbles, Puri said talks are at a very advance stage with at least three countries - France, US and Germany.  

"Air France will be operating 28 flights from Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru to Paris between July 18 to August 1. In the case of the United States, we have an agreement with United Airlines to operate 18 flights between India-US between July 17 and July 31 but this is an interim one. We have a request from Germany also and an agreement with Lufthansa is almost done," Puri said. 

Speaking on Vande Bharat Mission, Air India CMD Rajiv Bansal said Air India and Air India Express have operated 1103 flights, bringing back 2,08,000 Indians as on July 13.

"On many of these flights, we ferried back 85289 passengers to various countries across the world," he said.

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