Monday, March 15, 2021

Government to expand air bubble option with more countries: Jaishankar

New Delhi: External Affairs Minister (EAM) S. Jaishankar on Monday told the Rajya Sabha that the government wanted to expand the “air bubble” arrangement with more countries and the priority would be Saudi Arabia, Kuwait in the west and Japan, China and Singapore in the east.

“These are the countries where bubbles have not worked so well,” Mr. Jaishankar told the Rajya Sabha.

Under the air bubble scheme, commercial airlines from specific countries are allowed to travel to and from India on a limited basis — an arrangement that was solely reserved for the Air India under the Vande Bharat mission — as full scale international commercial air operations are yet to resume after COVID-19 restrictions were implemented last year.

The Minister made these remarks while informing both Houses of Parliament about the Narendra Modi government’s efforts in repatriating Indians, Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) and Persons of Indian Origin (PIO) during the corona pandemic.

Calling it as the world’s biggest repatriation exercise that saw over 4.5 million people return home under the Vande Bharat Mission, Mr. Jaishankar said the focus has now shifted to Indians going back to their usual places of work, study and domicile and restoring employment opportunities abroad with the help of partner countries.

He said so far, air transport bubble arrangements have been concluded with 27 countries.

15/03/21 The Hindu

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