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United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Wednesday expressed hope for resumption of pre-Covid flight services with India noting that such measures will solve issues like spike in airfare and dearth of seats. 

Ambassador to India Ahmed Albanna said during a press conference on Wednesday also asserted that UAE is working with Indian authorities to see if travel can be eased.

When the air service agreement was suspended due to the COVID situation, the two countries got into an arrangement called the air bubble agreement.

Noting that under Air Bubble Agreement, there is a restriction on carrying a certain number of passengers, he said, “Our main carriers are carrying only 30 per cent of the total capacity of their entitlement under the Air Service Agreement. And that is what is affecting the traffic and price." 

"I am sure we will see double the amount of travellers between UAE and India if we go back to the normal air service agreement," the UAE envoy said speaking on the fact that there is a limitation on people coming to India.

Currently, India has air bubble agreements with more than 25 countries, including--US, UK, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Germany, Dubai, France and Canada.

There were 1,068 flights a week between the UAE and India before the COVID-19 pandemic

Referring to the clause 24 in the Air Services Agreement, he said, "It say if carriers reach 80 per cent then it means they have reached 100 per cent. Indian carriers have reached 100 per cent," he said.

"There were 1,068 flights a week between the UAE and India before the COVID-19 pandemic. Out of that, over 500 were Indian carriers and over 400 were UAE carriers. Both carriers were running at almost 100 per cent. The clause is very clear that when we reach 100 per cent, we have to renegotiate. There were two rounds of negotiations, one in Mumbai in the year 2017 and one in Delhi just before the pandemic in 2019," the envoy added.

International flight operations expected to return to normal soon: Civil Aviation Secretary

Meanwhile, Civil Aviation Secretary Rajiv Bansal on Wednesday announced that international flight operations are expected to return to normal soon.

Scheduled international flights have been suspended in India since March 23, 2020, after a nationwide lockdown was announced by the Centre in view of the coronavirus outbreak.

On October 29, 2021, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) extended the ban on scheduled international commercial passenger flights to and from India until November 30.

(With inputs from agencies)

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