India Signs “Air Bubble” Pacts with Japan, Netherlands

Direct flights can now resume, though tourism is not yet allowed and arriving travelers will still have to quarantine.

On the grounds of Safdarjung’s Tomb in Delhi, India. (Photo: Karan Pal/Pixabay)

While India has extended its ban on inbound international flights until November 30, New Delhi is continuing efforts to ink so-called “air bubble” arrangements with a range of countries around the world, in a bid to restore its air links until scheduled passenger services can resume. The Indian embassy in Tokyo revealed via Twitter that one of the latest signatories was Japan, and Air India would restart flights between Delhi and Tokyo from today, with operations planned to last until December 30, 2020.

An agreement on resuming direct flights has also been reached with the Netherlands and Tanzania, expanding the scope of India’s air bubble scheme to at least 20 countries. Other nations that have similar arrangements include the Maldives, Gulf states like Qatar and the UAE, and European countries such as Germany, France, United Kingdom. Farther afield, Canada and the United States have also signed up for the scheme.

With the growing number of flights available under these air bubble pacts, Indian nationals stranded abroad will have more options to return home. New Delhi has recently lifted certain restrictions on inbound travelers, and all OCI (Overseas Citizens of India) cardholders along with those with a PIO (Person of Indian Origin) card, regardless of their nationality, are now able to enter the country. Foreign nationals can also visit India so long as they are not traveling on a tourist visa. New Delhi has not yet given a tentative timeframe for when it will reopen India’s borders to general overseas visitors.

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