What is Air Bubble Agreement?

Transportation bubbles or air travel arrangements were temporary arrangements between two countries meant to resume commercial passenger services. The reciprocal nature of these air bubble agreements means that airlines from both countries are given similar benefits. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the majority of countries banning international flights, the Air Bubble agreement gained much traction in the news.

Previously, it was only possible to book chartered flights or flights operated by Vande Bharat Mission or Air India Express, followed by IndiGo- and SpiceJet-operated flights. The flights used were repatriation flights for Indians stuck abroad; however, you could also take them after they left India to travel to other countries.

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Air Bubble Agreement Meaning for UPSC Exam

India has signed bilateral agreements with specific countries to allow those countries’ national carriers to ship passengers back and forth from India. The arrangements go beyond our national carriers.

When regular international flights are suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic, these air bubble agreements between countries are aimed at restarting commercial passenger traffic.

India has air bubble agreements with 35 nations. These countries include Afghanistan, Bahrain, Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, Bhutan, Ethiopia, France, Finland, Germany, Japan, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Kenya, Maldives, Nepal, Mauritius, Netherlands, Oman, Nigeria, Qatar, Rwanda, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Seychelles, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Switzerland, Ukraine, United Kingdom (UK), United Arab Emirates (UAE), United States of America and Uzbekistan.

You will find that UPSC notes and syllabus stress the importance of current affairs and agreements between countries. IAS aspirants must also read about India’s Bilateral Relations with other countries at the linked article.

Air Bubble Agreement Between India and Saudi Arabia for UPSC Prelims

An air bubble agreement between India and Saudi Arabia has been signed and came into effect on 1st January 2022, allowing all qualifying travelers to travel between the two countries. The agreement enables Indian carriers and Saudi Arabian carriers to operate flights between the two countries and transport passengers on flights defined in the contract.

The traffic carried from/to India shall consist of passengers operating from/destined for Saudi Arabia. Similarly, traffic operated from/to Saudi Arabia shall consist of passengers from/destined for India. The air travel bubble is open to Indian nationals, Nepalese or Bhutanese nationals, and other nationals with a valid visa for Saudi Arabia, whose terminal destination is Saudi Arabia.

You can go through the Difference Between COVID-19 and SARS on the linked page.

Since the travel bubble was initiated post lockdown to revive the economy from the effect of COVID-19, the Government of India has taken various other initiatives to contain the disease and keep it floating. Some of these measures are –

Ayushman Bharat Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan – COVID-19 Relief Package
PM Garib Kalyan Yojana PM CARES Fund
PM SVANidhi Yojana Aarogya Setu

Current Situation

To depart, travelers arriving in India must upload a self-declaration with a negative PCR test result to Air Suvidha at least 72 hours before departure, regardless of vaccination status.

Currently, passengers arriving in India from “countries of risk”-the United Kingdom, New Zealand, South Africa, Brazil, Europe, Botswana, Ghana, Tanzania, Mauritius, Zimbabwe, Hong Kong, China, and Israel-have to pre-book PCR tests upon arrival. After the passenger has tested negative, they cannot take a connecting flight or leave the airport.

Even though the number of fines varies from state to state in India, not wearing a mask in public places is still illegal.


Omicron has prevented aircraft from flying to India, so regular international flights remain suspended. Still, Select customers will have the option to fly between India and Saudi Arabia from January 1st, 2022. Several days ago, Saudi Arabia and India agreed to establish an air corridor. Adding Saudi Arabia to the list of countries launching travel bubbles with India, the government has become the 36th.

Airlines from both nations can now carry passengers in both directions through the new deal. In both cases, passengers departing Saudi Arabia for India must be destined only for India. Nepal and Bhutan citizens can also enter the bubble with a Saudi Arabia visa.

Follow up on international events and its effect to get a better understanding of current affairs. It will help in the IAS Preparation. Take part in current affairs quizzes to sharpen your skills and secure a better score in UPSC 2022.

For the best preparation strategy for competitive exams candidates can visit the linked article and get detailed study material and preparation tips to excel in the examination.

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Other Related Links
Science & Technology Notes For UPSC Topic-Wise GS 3 Questions for UPSC Mains
Science and Technology Questions & Answers for UPSC Science & Technology Questions in UPSC Mains GS-3
UPSC Prelims Previous Year Science & Technology Questions UPSC Mains General Studies Paper 3 Strategy, Syllabus & Structure


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