Sunday, August 23, 2020

Flying from an air bubble country to India, no need to register with Indian mission before doing so: MHA

New Delhi: In a huge relief to people travelling to India from countries with which the government has created air bubbles and airlines flying them here, such inbound travellers now do not need to register themselves with the Indian mission abroad before doing so.

That requirement is only for people travelling on Vande Bharat Mission (VBM) flights, according to new guidelines issued by the home ministry (MHA) Saturday for international travel to and from India on VBM flights and on the air bubbles created with various countries.

A senior official of a foreign airline of an air bubble country welcomed this move, saying: “As per the new rules, passengers on our flights don’t have to register on the Indian embassy portal. So relief for them and us who had to check (if that condition has been complied with).” India has so far created air bubbles with USA, UK, France, Germany, UAE, Qatar and Maldives.

“Persons desirous to travel to India on VBM flights, will register themselves with the Indian Missions in the country where they are stranded/ residing, along with necessary details as prescribed by ministry of external affairs (MEA). Such a registration may not be required on flights operating under air transport bubbles arrangements,” the new standard operating procedure (SOP) issued by home secretary A K Bhalla on Saturday said.

India is in talks with many more countries to create air bubbles like Australia, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Nigeria, Bahrain, Israel, Kenya, Philippines, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Nepal and Bhutan.

The idea of these bubbles is to ensure continuity of travel between India and these countries by eligible categories of people till schedule flights resume.

Eligible people are allowed to travel between India and the countries with which air bubbles have been created on airlines of either sides on a reciprocal basis. Schedule international flights to and from India have been suspended since March 22.

The protocol for flights to India requires that “priority be given to compelling cases of in distress, including migrant workers/ labourers who have been laid off, short term visa holders faced with expiry of visas, persons with medical emergency/ pregnant women/ elderly persons or those required to return to India due to death of family member, and students.”
23/08/20 Saurabh Sinha/Times of India
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