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TAAI appeals to MoCA to commence scheduled airline operations other than Air Bubbles and VBM flights

The Travel Agents Association of India (TAAI) on Wednesday urged government to allow international flights to underserved markets beyond the ambit of various “air bubble” agreements with different countries.

All international commercial air passenger services in India are suspended since March 22 in the wake of travel restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, various evacuation and charter flights and services under the air bubble pact with a few select countries are being carried out.

An air bubble is a bilateral arrangement with a set of regulations and restrictions in which the carriers of two countries can operate international flights.

In a letter to Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri, TAAI said airlines should be permitted to accept bookings for flights beyond the ones currently being operated.

“TAAI appeals to the Civil Aviation Ministry to permit airlines and agents to sell tickets and commence scheduled flights and travel beyond the air bubbles to underserved markets,” TAAI said in the letter.

Earlier, TAAI representatives had met Puri along with Union Tourism Minister Prahlad Patel on this issue on August 13.

The Association said that air bubbles permit point-to-point services between only a few countries which have signed agreement with India.

“We have appealed to permit and open the criteria for airlines to carry passengers to various other countries beyond their hubs to the underserved markets.

“This is because in a lot of markets where there are fewer requirements for VBM (Vande Bharat Mission) flights  or air bubbles are not created, these carriers will be able to carry passengers as per specified norms to and from India and the transiting country,” TAAI President Jyoti Mayal said.

The Association said that allowing flights beyond the ambit of such agreements will open up capacity and provide opportunity to member travel agents, airlines and travellers to commence their activities.

Along with reviving the economy, the move will also provide a ground to cater to non-connected sectors from India, TAAI said.

It will also enable commencement of business and act as a revival catalyst for member travel agents and restart economic activity between other countries with India, TAAI added.

“This is the right time to permit commencement of scheduled operations as global skies open up,” it said.