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The Indian government has finalised an air bubble agreement with Saudi Arabia, which will allow all eligible travellers to travel between the two countries. The flights between the two countries will begin on January 1, 2022.

Air travel 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. India has an air bubble agreement with 35 countries. These include: 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.

India has suspended the scheduled international passenger flight operations in India till January 31 due to the surge in Covid-19 cases.

Earlier this month, the Centre said it is working on creating air bubbles with 10 more countries including Switzerland and Saudi Arabia as Omicron has deferred resumption of regular flights. Of the 10 countries, announcements have been made for Kazakhstan, Australia, and Saudi Arabia now. The major countries to follow the suit are New Zealand, South Korea, Italy, Israel, the Philippines, Thailand, Switzerland.

Who can fly on air bubble flights between India and Saudi Arabia?

From India to Saudi Arabia:

1. Nationals/residents of Saudi Arabia;

2. Any Indian national or national of Nepal or Bhutan holding a valid visa of Saudi Arabia and destined for Saudi Arabia only. It would be for the airlines concerned to ensure that there is no travel restriction for Indian/Nepalese/Bhutanese nationals to enter Saudi Arabia before the issue of ticket/boarding pass to the Indian/Nepalese /Bhutanese passenger.

From Saudi Arabia to India:

1. Indian nationals or nationals of Nepal or Bhutan in Saudi Arabia;

2. Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) cardholders and Persons of Indian Origin (PIO) cardholders holding passports of any country. It would be for the airlines concerned to ensure that there is no travel restriction for Non-Indian nationals to enter India with a particular visa category before issuing of ticket/boarding pass to the passenger; and

3. Saudi Arabian nationals (including diplomats) holding a valid Indian visa as per extant guidelines.

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