India’s air bubble travel is here! If you’re wondering what exactly do travel bubbles mean, we have all the answers for you. Travel Bubbles are a bilateral agreement between India and select countries, that allow INDIAN CITIZENS with any category of visa or OCI card holders to travel between these two countries. Once you land at your destination, in India or abroad quarantine rules applicable in that country are to be followed.
The Director General Civil Aviation has allowed air bubble travel from India to a number of countries including the United Kingdom, United States, Canada, UAE, France, Germany, Maldives and now Qatar. The number of air bubbles is expected to increase further as per Minister of Civil Aviation Mr Hardeep Singh Puri, until regular air travel opens up completely.
Maldives was the first neighbouring country to sign the agreement, their Foreign Minister Abdullah Shahid thanked the Government of India for doing so, stating the “importance of easing travel, especially for Maldivians seeking to visit India for urgently required medical treatment, as well as Indian tourists wishing to visit the Maldives”. This now opens up opportunity for tourism, jobs, medical treatments and bilateral flights between the two countries with easy and visa free travel.
Incidentally, India’s National carrier has already been flying to these countries under Mission Vande Bharat and now the carriers of these 8 countries are lining up to travel to India as well with bookings already open on their respective airlines like Virgin, Etihad, Air Canada, British Airways, United Airlines and Air France. London Heathrow Airport is emerging as the hot favourite with airlines like British Airways, SpiceJet, Vistara, and Air India flying out of India, while Virgin Atlantic plans to start service on 2nd October to Delhi and mid October to Mumbai.
While all the countries have their own institutional quarantine period, some demand mandatory negative RT-PCR test reports on arrival. India has a 14 day mandatory quarantine which includes 7 days paid institutional quarantine (exemption for this may be granted to some incoming passengers based on certain criteria as listed below) and another 7 days at home.
The regulations as per immigration guidelines by the Ministry of Home Affairs, operational 8th August onwards are as follows:
“All travellers should submit self-declaration form on the online portal at least 72 hours before the scheduled travel. They should also give an undertaking on the portal that they would undergo mandatory quarantine for 14 days i.e. 7 days paid institutional quarantine at their own cost, followed by 7 days isolation at home with self-monitoring of health. Only for compelling reasons/ cases of human distress such as pregnancy, death in family, serious illness and parent(s) with children of the age of 10 years or below, home quarantine may be permitted for 14 days. If they wish to seek such exemption they shall apply to the online portal at least 72 hours before boarding. The decision taken by the government as communicated on the online portal will be final. Travellers may also seek exemption from institutional quarantine by submitting a negative RT-PCR test report on arrival. This test should have been conducted within 96 hrs prior to undertaking the journey. The test report should be uploaded on the portal for consideration. Each passenger shall also submit a declaration with respect to authenticity of the report and will be liable for criminal prosecution, if found otherwise. The test report could also be produced upon arrival at the point of entry airport in India”.
Mr Puri also said “We’re taking our efforts forward and negotiating with 13 more countries to establish air travel arrangements. These include Australia, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Nigeria, Bahrain, Israel, Kenya, Philippines, Russia, Singapore, South Korea & Thailand.” Other than the above Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Nepal and Bhutan are also on the radar as per the Ministry of Civil Aviation.
Hope this information comes in handy! Time to pack your bags – Bon Voyáge.
Revised guidelines as per 8th August by GOI