An air bubble between India and Canada will become operational on August 15, with national carriers of both nations aiming to restore commercial passenger services to pre-pandemic level.
This air bubble for India will be the fifth of its kind, as the country has similar arrangements in place with the United States, United Kingdom, Germany and France.
Air Canada will start operating flights between Toronto and New Delhi on Saturday, with the first flight returning on Tuesday.
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Till date, over 50 flights operated by Air India under the Vande Bharat Mission have repatriated Indians from Canada. These flights have connected several cities in India with the Canadian cities of Toronto and Vancouver. They have so far ferried nearly 9,000 persons back to India, and with 20 more such flights scheduled for this month, that number is expected to cross 10,000.
Meanwhile, the Canadian Government, through its High Commission in Delhi and its Consulates in India, has also operated 41 repatriation flights, but those were chartered. Air Canada will return to India after nearly five months. Though the current arrangement of three-flights-a-week between Delhi and Toronto is only listed till the end of August, it is expected to be extended.
The two countries were prompt in establishing the air bubble, with the Canadian Government seeking permission to this effect last week. “It adds to the convenience of Indian and Canadian citizens,” India’s High Commissioner to Ottawa Ajay Bisaria said.
The Indian Government is also working at synchronizing sharing of data with Air Canada for smooth implementation of restrictions and precautions related to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Canadians of Indian origin holding Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) cards will be able to travel on these flights to India. This underscores the importance of these cards, since those who do not have it will have to apply for an emergency visa to travel, Bisaria said.
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