India has established a number of travel bubble agreements in the last few months, allowing foreign carriers to return to India. However, with scheduled international flights still banned, only a handful of international carriers have resumed flights to India.
Middle East carriers return
One of the earliest airlines to resume flights to India were from the UAE. This meant both Emirates and Etihad began services from India, bringing two of the Middle East Three back to India. flyDubai and Air Arabia have resumed flights to India as well, providing many options for travelers to/from India.
Qatar Airways has returned to India as well, completing the Middle East Three’s presence in India. The airline is currently flying a handful of routes since it cannot offer passengers connecting flights, a major ticket source.
Oman Air and Salamair have also resumed flights, with the former offering a handful of weekly flights to major cities. Omani low-cost airline Salamair is flying a substantial schedule to India, with six destinations in place.
Travel bubbles are also in place for flights from Afghanistan, Iraq, and Bahrain, which means more airlines start flights in the coming months. It’s clear the Middle East has substantial connectivity from India right now, especially compared to other regions.
Europe and North America
Two continental European airlines currently fly to India, namely Air France and Lufthansa. Air France operates flights to Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, and Chennai to Paris. Lufthansa recently got into a standoff with the Indian authorities, which saw flights canceled for three weeks. The dispute was resolved last week, with Lufthansa substantially reducing flights to 10 a week, from Delhi, Mumbai, and Bangalore, but dashing its expansion plans.
The travel bubble with the UK has allowed British Airways and Virgin Atlantic to fly to India, serving the lucrative India-London market. Virgin Atlantic is also expanding services in India, adding a new Manchester route from January.
When it comes to North America, passengers have fewer options. United flies to Newark and San Francisco from India, but has exciting plans for India, including new flights from Bangalore and Chicago.
Rest of the world
Outside of the three regions listed above, India’s travel bubbles only allow a handful of other foreign airlines. Flights to Japan will restart flights in November under the new travel agreement, the first destination in East Asia. Currently, ANA and JAL have made no statement on resuming flights, with only Air India returning.
There are presently no foreign airlines flying to Africa or South America from India, and since connecting passengers are not technically allowed, there are very limited options.
Overall, there are many foreign carriers flying to India, offering strong connectivity to some regions. However, the ban on connecting traffic and lack of agreements in key regions means passengers may still struggle to find flights.