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India has finalized a bilateral air bubble agreement with Sri Lanka, allowing the operation of special international passenger flights between the two countries, the Civil Aviation Ministry said on Saturday. With this, India now maintains such pacts with 28 countries, including Afghanistan, Bahrain, Canada, France, Germany, Iraq, Japan, the Maldives, Nigeria, Qatar, the UAE, the UK, and the USA.
Under an air bubble pact between two countries, special international passenger flights can be operated into each other’s territories under restrictive conditions. All the eligible passengers will be able to travel between India and Sri Lanka, the Ministry informed through a tweet on Saturday.
Regular flights suspended till April 30
Regular scheduled international flights have been suspended in India since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020. However, special international passenger flights have been operating under the Vande Bharat Mission since May last year and under bilateral air bubble arrangements since July.
The coronavirus-induced suspension of scheduled international passenger flights has been extended till April 30, Indian aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) said last month.
“However, international scheduled flights may be allowed on selected routes by the competent authority on a case-to-case basis,” the DGCA added. The DGCA circular also said that the suspension does not affect the operation of international all-cargo operations and flights specifically approved by it.