CHENNAI: India and Saudi Arabia are holding talks to establish air bubble arrangement to facilitate unhindered travel between the two countries.
According to a tweet by the Indian embassy in Riyadh, Ali Rajab, Director General of Air Transport, General Authority of Civil Aviation, along with representatives of various Indian and Saudi carriers held discussions on how to resume flights and start an air bubble between India and Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia suspended all flights to and from India due to a spike in coronavirus cases in the country. Sources said that currently NRIs holding a Saudi Arabian visa but held up in India are flying there via Dubai. First they have to reach Dubai on a transit or visiting visa and then obtain clearances to travel to Saudi Arabia. Tamil Nadu has a large number of people with valid work visas who are facing difficulty in travel to Saudi Arabia directly.
Transport bubbles 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. India has an agreement with 22 countries, including the United States, Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Canada, Maldives, UAE, Qatar, Bahrain, Nigeria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Japan among others. Air bubble arrangements are different from repatriation flights wherein passengers have to register with the embassies in other countries to fly back to India.