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Air Bubble: Direct AI Flights to London From Kolkata, Goa

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Airport Authority of India and Air India
Airport Authority of India and Air India officials at Dabolim Airport, Goa before the launch of direct Goa-London weekly flights. Source: AAI

A whole bunch of additional flights between India and UK under Air Bubble Agreement have been announced by national carrier Air India.

These flights, scheduled from Delhi, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Amritsar, Kolkata, Kochi and Goa are in addition to existing services scheduled under Vande Bharat Mission (VMB) between the two countries.

Flyers will now be able to avail air services between Goa and London on a weekly basis. It is soon expected to turn into a bi-weekly service from November under the Air Bubble agreement.

“Important day for Goa International Airport. Today Air India starts its direct flight LHR-GOI-LHR, B787. Initially once a week then twice a week from November under Air Bubble. Goa connects to London directly now,” the official Goa Airport handle said in a Tweet.

Bookings for the flight scheduled from January 1 to March 27, 2021, have begun. Travelers can book their tickets via the airline’s official website, call centers, or booking offices and agents.

Notably, scheduled international passenger flights have been suspended in India since March 23 due to the coronavirus pandemic. However, special international flights have been allowed since July under the bilateral air bubble pacts formed by India with around 17 countries, including United Kingdom.

‘Air Travel pacts’ are temporary arrangements between two countries aimed at restarting commercial passenger services when regular international flights are suspended as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. They are reciprocal in nature, meaning airlines from both countries enjoy similar benefits.

Till date, India has facilitated the repatriation and international travel of over 20 lakh people through different means since May 6 2020, Union Minister of Civil Aviation (MoCA) Hardeep Singh Puri had said recently.

Interacting with media persons, Mr. Puri had said that under Vande Bharat Mission, 17,11,128 people have travelled back to India and 2,97,536 people have travelled out of India.

Meanwhile, the administration has made available paid RT-PCR COVID-19 testing facilities for arriving passengers from the United Kingdom. Officials said that this will greatly benefit Indian’s as tests in London are not just expensive but also take a lot of time for the results to be made available. For these tests, the passengers need to hand over their passports and the same will be returned once the results are out.