External affairs minister V Muraleedharan on Wednesday informed Parliament that negotiations on an air bubble with Saudi Arabia are on hold as the Kingdom has banned the entry of passengers from India due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a written reply to Rajya Sabha, the minister informed that the government has discussed the finalization of draft air bubble arrangements with Saudi Arabia. He added that the negotiations were suspended due to the entry ban.
Moreover, he further urged the Central government to resume the scheduled international flight services to/from India.
TG Venkatesh, Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee for Transport, Tourism, and Culture said that the committee is advocating for re-starting the scheduled international flights.
DGCA Extends Flight Suspension
It must be noted that due to the Covid-19 pandemic the scheduled international flights to/from India have been suspended since 23rd March 2020 and recently the DGCA of India has extended the suspension of scheduled international flights till 31st August 2021.
The restrictions will not apply to international cargo operations and flights specifically approved by the DGCA (Vande Bharat Mission and Air Bubbles)
Air Bubble Arrangements
He further informed that India currently has air bubble arrangements with 28 countries which include — Afghanistan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Canada, Ethiopia, France, Germany, Iraq, Japan, Kenya, Kuwait, the Maldives, Nepal, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Oman, Qatar, Rwanda, Seychelles, Tanzania, Ukraine, the UAE, the UK, Uzbekistan, and the US.