Bhutan, India agree to Air Travel Bubble Arrangement

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With Bhutan and India agreeing to Air Travel Bubble Arrangement (ATBA) on September 18, Drukair operated its first flight under this arrangement to Bagdogra, India on Thursday.

The ATBA is expected to enable flight operations between the two countries till the resumption of normal International flights between Bhutan and India.

With this arrangement, Drukair will hereafter operate one flight each to Delhi and Kolkata, and one flight to Bagdogra/Guwahati a week – Paro-Kolkata-Paro on October 16 (thereafter every Friday) and Paro-Delhi-Paro on October 19 (thereafter every Monday).

According to the press release from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA), Bhutan Airlines also intends to begin operations in the near future.

However, the press release states that travelers will be subject to strict adherence to the mandatory quarantine and other COVID-19 related health protocols put in place by the Royal Government of Bhutan and the Government of India.

Entry into India:

All travelers should submit a self-declaration form along with a negative RT- PCR test certificate on the online portal (www.newdelhiairport.in) at least 72 hours before the scheduled travel.

Travelers may seek exemption from institutional quarantine by submitting a negative RT-PCR test report on arrival. This test should have been conducted within 96 hours prior to undertaking the journey. The test report should be uploaded on the portal for consideration. The test report could also be produced upon arrival at the point of entry airport in India.

For more details please visit the website of Bureau of Immigration, Government of India (https://boi.gov.in) 

Bhutanese citizens travelling to India should be in possession of any of the following identity documents:

Bhutanese Passport

Bhutanese Citizenship Identity Card

For children between the age of 10-18, Photo ID issued by the Principal of the school, if accompanied by parents having valid documents. No such document is required for children below the age of 10 Years.

Entry into Bhutan:  

All foreigners entering Bhutan must produce a COVID-19 Negative Certificate at the time of boarding and port of arrival.

However, migrant workers from India should produce a RAPID ANTIGEN Test Negative Certificate if they do not have access to RT-PCR testing.

The test must be carried out by RT-PCR from a certified laboratory NOT earlier than 72 hours (3 days) prior to leaving the country of origin.

All Bhutanese and foreigners have to undergo mandatory facility quarantine for 21 days and testing as per existing protocols of the Ministry of Health.

Cost of quarantine and testing and/or medical treatment, if required, for foreigners have to be borne by themselves.

Bhutanese returning home for the first time are not required to bear such costs.

However, Bhutanese who exited Bhutan on their own volition during the pandemic after signing the “Undertaking Form”, with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, have to bear the costs of quarantine, testing, etc. as stipulated in the Undertaking Form, when they return to Bhutan.

Bhutanese returning home are exempted from the requirement specified in SL No. 1.

According to the MoFA, Drukair and Bhutan Airlines will soon announce other details and the schedule of their flights under this special arrangement. Interested passengers are advised to contact the two airlines for ticketing and all related information.

“Drukair and Bhutan Airlines will have the right to cancel or reschedule flights,” states the press release.

pic courtesy: Facebook

staff reporter from Thimphu

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