India signs air bubble agreement with Australia — what does this mean for Indian students?

India air bubble
Under the agreement, any Indian national heading to Australia and holds a valid visa of the destination country will be allowed to travel. Source: Punit Paranjpe / AFP

The Indian government has finalised an air bubble agreement with Australia which will allow eligible passengers to travel between both countries, said reports. The bilateral India air bubble agreement aims to resume flights between the two nations with preconditions during the pandemic.

India’s Ministry of Civil Aviation notes that transport bubbles are reciprocal in nature, meaning airlines from both countries enjoy similar benefits. It has been signed between 33 countries worldwide, and will allow Indian to travel to and from these countries and vice versa.

Under the bilateral India air bubble agreement, any Indian national heading to Australia and holds a valid visa of the destination country will be allowed to travel with the India air bubble.

The ministry notes the following about outbound flights from India on its website:

  • Nationals/residents of Australia, and foreign nationals with valid visa who are eligible to enter Australia/New Zealand;
  • Any Indian national or national of Nepal or Bhutan destined for Australia/New Zealand and holding a valid visa of the destination country. It would be for the airlines concerned to ensure that there is no travel restriction for Indian/Nepalese/Bhutanese nationals to enter the destination country before issue of ticket/boarding pass to the Indian/Nepalese/Bhutanese passenger; and
  • Seamen of foreign nationalities and Seamen holding Indian passports would be allowed subject to clearance from the Ministry of Shipping.

India air bubble agreement: Flights between India and Australia

Qantas has recently started flights between Sydney and New Delhi. The airline is also set to start flights between New Delhi and Melbourne before Christmas, reported Livemint.

A senior official with the airline said Air India flights between India and Australia will resume in coming days. “Australia is an important market for the airline and we expect a good demand,” the anonymous official was quoted saying.

Currently, scheduled international flight operations remain suspended at least till Jan. 31, 2022, according to a recent notification by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA). However, dedicated cargo and bilateral India air bubble flights with select countries continue to operate.

Countries under the current bilateral India air bubble agreements include:

  • Afghanistan
  • Australia
  • Bahrain
  • Bangladesh
  • Bhutan
  • Canada
  • Ethiopia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Iraq
  • Japan
  • Kenya
  • Kuwait
  • Maldives
  • Mauritius
  • Nepal
  • Netherlands
  • Nigeria
  • Oman
  • Qatar
  • Russia
  • Rwanda
  • Singapore
  • Seychelles
  • Switzerland
  • Sri Lanka
  • Tanzania
  • UAE
  • UK
  • US
  • Ukraine
  • Uzbekistan

Separately, Australia is set to reopen its borders as planned on December 15 to eligible visa holders, including international students and skilled migrants, Australian Health Minister Greg Hunt said today.

On November 29, the federal government announced that they would delay Australia’s border reopening from December 1 to December 15 following concerns over the COVID-19 Omicron variant.

Indian students looking to study in Australia can learn more about applying for an Australian study visa as well as Australian scholarships they should look out for here and here.