India To Start Air Travel Bubble With Saudi Arabia From New Year

saudi arabia

Indian government has signed an air bubble flight agreement with Saudi Arabia, and direct flights between the two countries will start soon, as recently announced; giving a great relief to international travelers, planning to travel to this Gulf country.

When Will The Agreement Come Into Force?
The Indian Embassy in Saudi Arabia took to Twitter and wrote, “Embassy is pleased to announce the air bubble arrangement between India and Saudi Arabia with effect from January 1, 2022.”

List of 34 other Countries with whom India has an air bubble agreement:
  • Afghanistan,
  • Australia,
  • Bahrain,
  • Bangladesh,
  • Bhutan,
  • Canada,
  • Ethiopia,
  • Finland,
  • France,
  • Germany,
  • Iraq,
  • Japan,
  • Kenya,
  • Kuwait,
  • Maldives,
  • Mauritius,
  • Nepal,
  • Netherlands,
  • Nigeria,
  • Oman,
  • Qatar,
  • Russia,
  • Rwanda,
  • Saudi Arabia,
  • Seychelles,
  • Singapore,
  • Sri Lanka,
  • Switzerland,
  • Tanzania,
  • Ukraine,
  • UAE,
  • United Kingdom,
  • USA, and
  • Uzbekistan.

Considering the rise in Covid-19 cases in India, the scheduled international passenger flight operations remain suspended in the country until January 31.

The government informed Parliament earlier this month, that it had a proposal from 10 countries to sign the Air Bubble Agreement, which has now been announced to Australia and Saudi Arabia. The two main countries Thailand and New Zealand will follow the suit.

“India has created an air bubble arrangement with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Indian carriers and carriers of Saudi Arabia are now permitted to operate flights between India and Saudi Arabia and carry passengers on flights defined in the agreement. Traffic carried to/from India shall comprise of passengers originating from/destined to Saudi Arabia only, and similarly, traffic carried to/from Saudi Arabia shall comprise of passengers originating from/destined to India only,” the official statement.

Saudi Arabia Covid Vaccine
As a big relief for international travelers from India, Saudi Arabia recognized Covaxin as an approved Covid-19 vaccine for travel recently. In November 2021, the World Health Organization (WHO) granted emergency use approval for a homemade vaccine by Bharat Biotech. Apart from exempting Indians from mandatory quarantine on arrival, the kingdom approved another widely used Covishield vaccine in India, in November.

What is an Air Travel Bubble Arrangement?
The air travel bubble arrangements are basically the 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 the nations enjoy similar benefits.

Who All Can Fly on Air Bubble Flights?

1. From India to Saudi Arabia:

  • Nationals/residents of Saudi Arabia;
  • Any Indian national or national of Nepal or Bhutan holding a valid visa of Saudi Arabia and destined for Saudi Arabia only. It would be for the airlines concerned to ensure that there is no travel restriction for Indian/Nepalese/Bhutanese nationals to enter Saudi Arabia before issue of ticket/boarding pass to the Indian/Nepalese /Bhutanese passenger.


2. From Saudi Arabia to India:

  • Indian nationals or nationals of Nepal or Bhutan in Saudi Arabia;
  • 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
  • Saudi Arabian nationals (including diplomats) holding a valid Indian visa as per extant guidelines.

 

Traffic carried to/from India shall comprise of passengers originating from/destined to Saudi Arabia only, and similarly traffic carried to/from Saudi Arabia shall comprise of passengers originating from/destined to India only.

Presently, Saudi-bound passengers are flying from and to India through other Gulf countries.

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