As the fifth phase of Vande Bharat Mission started on August 1, the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) is working towards establishing bilateral agreements for two-way flights with neighborhood countries, according to Minister Hardeep Singh Puri.
“Had a discussion with the External Affairs Minister in this regard. We have requested some countries. But on our own, we would like to have bilateral civil aviation flights with some of our neighboring countries,” the Minister said. When asked about the names of the countries in the neighborhood, the Minister said, “I am not announcing it yet, but most of the countries in our neighborhood.”
“Our planning for such bilateral flights depends on the capacity and the willingness of the receiving states. Most often, the states tell us you can bring flights but we can take only these many flights. This is not only about Indian states. Australia, for instance, wants limited aviation functions. West Bengal is again under lockdown. So, we respect the decision of the states and are navigating our operations through all this,” the minister said.
India has already set up air bubbles with the US, the UK, France, Germany
“Some countries in Central Asia have shown interests. Switzerland is also interested. We are planning to have air bubbles with some African countries so that we can aggregate passengers. And there are neighboring countries that are willing. We may set up an air bubble with Japan,” the Minister said, offering a glimpse of the future of the international flights.
“The situation is dynamic and evolving and is giving results. On social media, the troll army often asks me why you are not resuming operations to this place or that place. I want to say if I could make the decision, I would have opened all flights,” Puri added.