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News Entry# 413840
Jul 11 (15:57) Bubble flights to Indian students’ rescue in US? (

News Entry# 413840  Blog Entry# 4666601   
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VISAKHAPATNAM: Following the USA government’s announcement that foreign students taking online-only classes in the country during the fall semester may be deported, travel authorities in India, especially in Hyderabad, Visakhapatnam and Vijayawada are keenly observing the developments.
If the huge contingent of Indian students studying in USA had to return, flights under the Vande Bharat Mission won’t be enough. In which case, much would depend on international bubble flights to be operated by US-based airlines after July 21.
According to government data, there are over four lakh Indian students currently in USA. The
number of Telugu students in USA is estimated to be around one lakh.
K Vijay Mohan, president of Tours and Travels Association of Andhra Pradesh, said, “Air India is operating 36 flights between India and USA from July 11 to July 19. Most of these flights are fully booked. We are keeping a close watch on introduction of bubble flights which are expected to fly after July 11.”
Meanwhile, Sumanta Roy Choudhury, a retired Air India pilot said, “Following the Covid-19 SOP issued by the civil aviation ministry and the restrictions on board, there is no way that the national carrier can cater to the huge contingent of students studying in USA. Much would depend on chartered services by other airlines.”
On June 23, the civil aviation ministry had stated, “As we move from controlled and managed aviation evacuation of our citizens in different parts of the world and foreign nationals from India, we are now looking at the possibility of bilateral arrangements.”
It was believed that India is considering opening up such ‘bilateral bubbles’ after the USA government had threatened to restrict chartered flights of the national carrier under the Vande Bharat Mission.
“Earlier, when the west Asian countries were operating such chartered flights, most of these flights landed in Hyderabad, Visakhapatnam and Vijayawada. This is because of a strong influx of Telugu population from these countries. Now, if Telugu students of these two states had to return from USA we would request the American airlines to operate more flights in this region,” said M Sampath Kumar, a Hyderabad-based travel agent said.
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