India has proposed to Bangladesh for a new arrangement called ‘air bubble’ to resume international flights between the two countries amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Indian government has placed their requests to the Bangladesh authorities on various occasions so that airlines could continue their flights between the two neighbours under specific arrangement.
The outgoing Indian High Commissioner in Bangladesh, Riva Ganguly Das, on Thursday called on state minister for civil aviation and tourism Md. Mahbub Ali at his Secretariat office and repeated the Indian request.
Riva Das, who was on a farewell call on the minister, proposed the resumption of air services between Bangladesh and India, now suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
She raised the issue of joining the Indian Air Bubble, according to a press release of the civil aviation and tourism ministry issued on Thursday.
In reply, the state minister agreed on the need to resume the air communication and said that steps would be taken soon through mutual communications.
Riva also expressed India’s intent on working for the development of Bangladesh’s aviation sector.
The outgoing high commissioner discussed ways to enhance cooperation in developing the tourism and aviation sectors between the two nations.
Mahbub said that it was necessary to create a field of regional cooperation in developing the region’s tourism industry in the aftermath of COVID-19 pandemic.
Calling excellent her experience of travelling to the Sundarbans during her stay in Bangladesh, Riva said that Bangladesh was a country of immense potential for tourism.
During the meeting, the state minister said that direct flights from Sylhet MAG Osmani International Airport to London would start soon.
The airport can serve as a transit route for residents of the north-eastern states of India to travel to different countries of the world, especially the United Kingdom, Mahbub suggested.
The Indian HC gave a positive response to the suggestion.
Civil Aviation Authorities, Bangladesh chairman Air Vice-Marshal M Mafidur Rahman said that he recommended to the foreign ministry on Thursday that a discussion could be initiated with the Indian counterparts over the special air service arrangement as long as Australia and New Zealand had a similar deal.
According to the Indian civil aviation ministry, the air transport bubble would be a temporary air travel arrangement between the two countries to restart commercial passenger services as regular international flights are suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
India has so far started transport bubbles with the USA, France and Germany.
During his recent visit to Bangladesh, Indian foreign secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla at a meeting with Bangladesh foreign secretary Masud Bin Momen on August 19 discussed the issue of air bubble.
‘Indian Foreign Secretary requested Bangladesh Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen to visit India at the earliest, taking advantage of the ‘air bubble’ initiative of India,’ said a press release of Bangladesh foreign affairs ministry following the meeting.
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