As speculated for the past few days, the air transport bubble agreement between India and Thailand has now come into effect with the Aviation Ministry confirming the decision. According to an update on the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA)’s website, India has signed and finalised the agreement allowing bilateral flights between both countries. With this arrangement, Indian and Thai airlines are now permitted to operate flights, carrying selected categories of passengers on such flights.
With this, India now has an air bubble agreement with 37 countries, which includes, Afghanistan, Australia, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Canada, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Germany, Iraq, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Kuwait, Maldives, Mauritius, Nepal, Netherlands, Nigeria, Oman, Qatar, Russia, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Seychelles, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, Tanzania, Thailand, Ukraine, UAE, United Kingdom, USA, and Uzbekistan. The Indian government had earlier that they had a proposal from 10 countries to sign the air bubble agreement including Thailand.
“India has created an air bubble arrangement with Thailand. Indian carriers and carriers of Thailand are now permitted to operate flights between India and Thailand and carry passengers on flights defined in the agreement. Traffic carried to/from India shall comprise of passengers originating from/destined to Thailand only, and similarly, traffic carried to/from Thailand shall comprise of passengers originating from/destined to India only,” read the official statement.
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.
Who can travel on air bubble flights?
From India to Thailand:
Any Indian national or national of Nepal or Bhutan holding a valid visa of Thailand and destined for Thailand only. It would be for the airlines concerned to ensure that there is no travel restriction for Indian/Nepalese/Bhutanese nationals to enter Thailand before issuing of ticket/boarding pass to the Indian/Nepalese /Bhutanese passenger.
From Thailand to India:
Indian nationals or nationals of Nepal or Bhutan in Thailand and Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) cardholders and Persons of Indian Origin (PIO) cardholders holding passports of any country. It would be for the airlines concerned to ensure that there is no travel restriction for non-Indian nationals to enter India with a particular visa category before issuing of ticket/boarding pass to the passenger, and Thai nationals (including diplomats) holding a valid Indian visa can also travel as per extant guidelines.