Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri on Thursday said that the government is at a very advanced stage of negotiations with at least three countries – France, US and Germany – for air bubble in view of coronavirus pandemic. Puri said at a press conference that till International Civil Aviation can reclaim pre-COVID situation in terms of numbers, he thinks that the answer lies in the bilateral air bubbles which can carry as many people as possible but under defined conditions because many countries are still imposing entry restrictions like India.

He also said that the Indian govt is at a very advance stage of negotiations with at least three countries – France, US and Germany for air bubble. Air France will be operating 28 flights from Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru to Paris between July 18 to August 1.

The minister said that in the case of the United States, India has an agreement with United Airlines to operate 18 flights between India and US between July 17 and July 31 but this is an interim one. India has a request from Germany also and an agreement with Lufthansa is almost done.

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He said that normal civil aviation operations will depend on the behaviour of the virus. As per the government’s protocol, every passenger who will travel from other countries to India needs to go to seven-day quarantine. Puri said that the government has brought back 687,467 citizens who were stranded abroad in the view of coronavirus-induced restrictions.

Puri said that till July 15, 687,467 citizens have been repatriated. An operation was carried out to evacuate people from Kuwait in August 1990 and around 170,000 people were evacuated from Oman to Mumbai. Air India then entered Guinness Book of World Records. Today, India has repatriated 687,467 citizens so far and this figure increases day by day. India is adding 20,000 passengers every day. Very soon numbers will be over 10 lakh.

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