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While there is the restart of the international air travel, what are t...

  Jun 04, 2020

While there is the restart of the international air travel, what are the concepts of ‘air bridges’ and ‘bubbles’? Explain.

  1. After the Home Ministry announced fresh guidelines pertaining to the countrywide lockdown to contain the coronavirus pandemic, India’s aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) said the suspension of scheduled international commercial passenger flights would continue until midnight on June 30. 
  2. Domestic passenger flight services resumed in the country from May 25, two months after the announcement of the lockdown and suspension of all scheduled commercial passenger flights in India. 
  3. International air travel shall remain suspended as per the MHA order.
  4. A number of countries in Europe have announced the opening up of borders for intra-Europe travel June 15 onwards, which will enable air travel, including for leisure purposes.
  5. Countries like Sweden, the UK, Ireland, The Netherlands, and Slovenia have opened borders to EU tourists, while those such as Germany, Hungary, Romania, and Finland have opened up partially but an extra layer of protection for the passengers and crew members.
  6. A study said that India’s population density and frequent domestic travel put it at a high risk for outbreaks from infected passengers arriving from within the country.
  7. Even as quarantining and testing of passengers are measures that have universal appeal, there is already talk of “bubbles” or “air bridges” joining jurisdictions that have largely eliminated the virus, and trust in each other’s testing and case numbers.
  8. Australia and New Zealand could lead the way with a proposed “Covid-safe travel zone”, or the trans-Tasman bubble. 
  9. Small countries in the Pacific including Fiji and the Cook Islands, which have kept the virus at bay, could join in, with the zone being expanded to other jurisdictions such as Hong Kong, South Korea and Taiwan.
  10. Passengers will be tested before a preflight period of quarantine, and they will then be tested every two days in quarantine after they land. 
  11. The aim is to find the shortest safe quarantine period for brief business trips, instead of the 14-day prescription in vogue currently.
  12. For Indian travellers to fly abroad, a lot will depend on the trajectory of the pandemic in the country, and on how regulators — DGCA as well as international regulators — certify the opening of their flight operations to or from India in the coming months.