India recently signed an ‘air bubble’ deal with Maldives, making it the 6th such agreement of air bubbles of the former amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, where some relief to the economy and passengers is being provided.
Crux of the Matter
India and Maldives signed an “air bubble agreement” on 13th August, 2020, with the first flight to Maldives leaving from India on 18th August.
India has signed air bubble agreement with these 6 countries so far:
- The US
- The UK
What Is An Air Bubble?
The air bubble deal allows passengers to travel between the two countries without having to go under quarantine on arrival. The testing of passengers on arriving is also discarded. The deal is reciprocal in nature, meaning that both the countries should have the same measures for the visitors.
Some experts have cited the deals as unnecessary, as several countries have under-reported the Covid-19 cases. However, the upside of such deals is that they provide a boost to the economy, which is especially beneficial for the developing nations.
Baltic nations of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia have created an air bubble between themselves, but have no air bubble for outsider nations.
Aid To Maldives
On 13th August, India also announced a $500 million package for the Maldives, making India’s total financial aid to the Maldives cross $2 billion. The latest package is divided into a Line of Credit of $400 million and a direct grant of $100 million. The aim of the funds is to aid the Greater Male Connectivity Project, which is a project connecting the capital Male to Villingili, Thilafushi, and Gulhifalhu islands.
Resurgence In Relationship
India and Maldives have seen a resurgence in their relationship since the election of President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih in 2018. Maldives defended India against the accusations of Islamophobia by Pakistan at the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and has also labelled the Kashmir issue as an “internal matter” of India while snubbing Pakistan’s request to condemn India.
- The 2011–2012 Maldives political crisis began as a series of peaceful protests that broke out in the Maldives. The protests continued and eventually escalated, forcing the resignation of President Mohamed Nasheed in disputed circumstances in February 2012.
- Mumbai-Juhu Airport is used by small General Aviation aircraft and helicopters. It was founded in 1928 as India’s first civil aviation airport. In 1932, JRD Tata landed at the Juhu aerodrome, inaugurating India’s first scheduled commercial mail service.
- The Airports Authority of India is a statutory body working under the Ministry of Civil Aviation. It provides Communication Navigation Surveillance / Air Traffic Management services over Indian airspace and the adjoining oceanic areas.
- The Indian Express – India inks air bubble deal with Maldives
- India Today – Kashmir is India’s internal matter: Maldives Speaker rebuffs Pakistan’s rhetoric
- The Economic Times – India-backed Maldives infrastructure project to surpass scope of Chinese-funded bridge
- The Quint – India Declares ‘Air Bubble’ Flights to US, France: Who Can Travel?