India and Nepal on Thursday signed a bilateral air bubble agreement to start regular scheduled international flights between both countries.
As per updates posted by the Embassy of India in Kathmandu, Air India and Nepal Airlines will operate daily flights between Delhi and Kathmandu.
“I am pleased to announce that both the Governments have approved the resumption of regular scheduled flights between Delhi and Kathmandu under the ‘Air Transport Bubble Mechanism’. These daily flights will be operated by Air India and Nepal Airlines.” India in Nepal Twitted.
दुबै सरकारले ‘एयर ट्रान्सपोर्ट बबल संयन्त्र’ अन्तर्गत दिल्ली र काठमाण्डौ बीच नियमित निर्धारित उडान पुनः सुरु गर्न अनुमोदन गरेको जानकारी गराउन पाउँदा खुसी लागेको छ । एयर इण्डिया र नेपाल एयरलाइन्सले यी दैनिक उडानहरू सञ्चालन गर्नेछन्।[1/2]#IndiaNepalFriendship @MEAIndia @PMOIndia— IndiaInNepal (@IndiaInNepal) December 10, 2020Advertisement
Initially, the service will start with one flight daily from each side between Delhi and Kathmandu. However, the service will be started with Indians and Nepalese nationals and all those having valid Indian visa except tourist visa. People having Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) and Persons of Indian Origin (PIO) cards will also be allowed to travel.
The following categories of persons on flights between India and Nepal:
- From India to Nepal:
- Indian nationals and nationals of Nepal. It would be for the airlines concerned to ensure that there is no travel restriction for Indian nationals to enter Nepal before the issue of ticket/ boarding pass to the Indian passenger;
- Third-country nationals (including diplomats) holding valid visa/entry permit for Nepal, if required.
- From Nepal to India:
- Indian nationals and nationals of Nepal;
- All Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) cardholders and Person of Indian Origin cardholders holding passports of any country; and
- All third-country nationals (including diplomats) intending to travel to India for any purpose (including their dependents on the appropriate category of dependent visa) except those on Tourist Visa.
- Only such passengers who are destined for Nepal are allowed to travel on flights from India to Nepal. Similarly, only passengers originating in Nepal are allowed to travel on flights from Nepal to India.
The development comes after Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla, during his recent visit to Nepal, highlighted the importance of people-to-people connectivity in sync with the special relationship between the two countries.
The air bubble arrangement will follow all medical protocols as is done with other countries that have similar arrangements, and this includes a reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test report of 72 hours prior to the travel.
Till now, India has the same air bubble arrangements in place with a total of 23 countries which includes Afghanistan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Canada, Ethiopia, France, Germany, Iraq, Japan, Kenya, Maldives, Nepal, Netherlands, Nigeria, Oman, Qatar, Rwanda, Tanzania, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates (UAE), United Kingdom (UK) And, United States of America (USA)
Scheduled international flights have been suspended in India since March 23 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
However, special international passenger flights have been operating in India under the Vande Bharat Mission since May and under bilateral air bubble arrangements formed between India and other countries since July.
What is a bilateral air bubble?
“Transport Bubbles” or “Air Travel Arrangements” are temporary arrangements between two countries aimed at restarting commercial passenger services when regular international flights are suspended as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. They are reciprocal in nature, meaning airlines from both countries enjoy similar benefits.