India allows France to resume limited flights, talks on with Germany

Opening the skies: Air France will operate 28 flights under a bilateral agreement with India.   | Photo Credit: AFP

India is inching towards opening international air travel and will soon allow airlines from France and Germany to operate a limited number of flights to the country. A bilateral agreement with France has already been finalised, which allows Air France to operate 28 flights, and a deal with Germany for Lufthansa is at an advanced stage of discussions, Minister of State for Civil Aviation Hardeep Singh Puri said.

Air France will operate 28 flights over a period of nearly two weeks from July 18 to August 1 between Paris and Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru. France is the third country to get a nod after the U.S. and the UAE were given permission to start flights to India earlier this month. U.S. carrier United Airways will operate 18 flights from Thursday until July 31.

All these countries had threatened to put India’s Vande Bharat mission for repatriation of Indians in jeopardy by imposing restrictions on Air India.

“We will see how the operations are conducted, and then we will review the arrangement and how much extension (can be given) and demand there is,” Mr. Puri told reporters.

The government had earlier spoken about establishing “travel bubbles” with different countries, which according to global airline’s body IATA should entail relaxing quarantine norms considerably between two countries with similar experiences, vis-a-vis COVID-19 cases. But the deals being finalised by India don’t include any exemptions on isolation. IATA has argued that imposing quarantine rules amounts to a full travel ban and has economic costs for countries. 

Private Indian carriers could also be given a share of the flights agreed upon in bilateral arrangements with different countries. “We are happy to allow other airlines to also participate in bilateral arrangements, in case domestic carriers want to acquire wide body planes,” said Mr. Puri. He was referring to Vistara’s plans to launch long-haul international flights to destinations like London. The Tata–Singapore Airlines joint venture has one Boeing 787 and plans to add three more by the end of this fiscal, which makes it the only private airline with the capability to operate non-stop flights to faraway countries after the demise of Jet Airways last year.

Air India CMD Rajiv Bansal said that airfares for New Delhi-–U.S. routes under Vande Bharat mission that were earlier priced at nearly ₹1,00,000 had been reduced by 25% and would be brought down further.



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Scheduled international passenger flights have been suspended in India since March 23 due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.


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Printable version | Sep 21, 2021 9:04:31 AM |

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