Dhaka, Delhi want to resume flights soon

Bangladesh and India want to resume flight operations through a special “air bubble” arrangement “as soon as possible” after finalising the “technicalities”.

Both sides are finalising the technicalities including frequency of flights and relevant issues, an official told UNB.

The Indian High Commission in Dhaka has already announced the resumption of online visa application services for Bangladeshis.

Visa categories currently allowed are medical, business, employment, entry, journalist, diplomatic, official, UN official and UN diplomatic.

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Other categories will be resumed soon, the High Commission said Friday.

At the recently held Joint Consultative Commission (JCC), foreign minister AK Abdul Momen and Indian External Affairs minister S Jaishankar “positively reviewed” the possibilities of resumption of air connectivity during the ongoing pandemic through special air bubble arrangement with an equal share of frequencies and routes by the carriers of the two countries.

Bangladesh side requested the Indian side to reciprocally ease visa and land border restrictions for Bangladeshi nationals, particularly for medical patients and students enrolled at various educational institutions in India.

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Indian high commissioner to Bangladesh Vikram Kumar Doraiswami said they are committed to deliver with their partners in the Bangladesh government on a special “air bubble” arrangement to resume flights very soon.

Media reports say many students from Bangladesh who are planning to enroll in universities in Europe are unable to apply for their visas as several countries including Estonia, Belgium and Latvia, do not provide visa consular services in Dhaka.

Students who have to travel to New Delhi to complete their application process are unable to go as Bangladesh and India have not established an air bubble agreement.

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During his visit in late August, Indian foreign secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla had proposed the setting up of an air bubble between the two neighbours to allow the passage of students, businesspersons and those seeking medical treatment.

The Bangladeshi government had welcomed the proposal.

The two countries held the 6th high-level JCC on 29 September virtually, co-chaired by foreign minister Momen and his Indian counterpart S Jaishanker.