The Indian government has signed an air bubble agreement with Saudi Arabia, allowing all eligible travellers to travel freely between the two countries. On January 1, 2022, flights between the two countries will begin.
When normal international flights are suspended as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, air travel bubbles are temporary agreements between two governments aimed at resuming commercial passenger services. With 35 countries, India has an air bubble agreement. Afghanistan, Australia, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Canada, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Germany, Iraq, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Maldives, Mauritius, Nepal, Netherlands, Nigeria, Oman, Qatar, Russia, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Seychelles, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, Tanzania, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates (UAE), United Kingdom (UK), United States of America (USA), and Uzbekistan are among these countries.
Due to an increase in Covid-19 cases, India has suspended scheduled international passenger airline operations until January 31.
The Centre announced earlier this month that it is collaborating with ten more countries, including Switzerland and Saudi Arabia, to create air bubbles, while Omicron has delayed resuming regular flights. Kazakhstan, Australia, and Saudi Arabia are the three countries that have made declarations thus far. New Zealand, South Korea, Italy, Israel, the Philippines, Thailand, and Switzerland are among the main countries to follow suit.
Who is eligible to fly between India and Saudi Arabia on air bubble flights?
From India to Saudi Arabia:
- Saudi Arabian nationals and inhabitants;
- Any Indian national, Nepalese or Bhutanese national, who has a valid Saudi Arabian visa and is exclusively going to Saudi Arabia. Before issuing a ticket/boarding pass to an Indian/Nepalese/Bhutanese passenger, the airlines concerned must ensure that there are no travel restrictions for Indian/Nepalese/Bhutanese people entering Saudi Arabia.
From Saudi Arabia to India:
- Indians, Nepalese, and Bhutanese nationals in Saudi Arabia;
- Persons of Indian Origin (PIO) and Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) cards with passports from any nation. Before granting a ticket/boarding pass to a customer, the airlines concerned must ensure that there are no travel restrictions for non-Indian citizens entering India with a specific visa type; and
- Saudi Arabian nationals (including diplomats) who have obtained a valid Indian visa in accordance with current regulations.