International flights Resume: According to airline officials, thousands of Indian citizens with work permits and residency visas have been wanting to go back to their jobs in Dubai but could not because of the travel restrictions.
The United Arab Emirates’ top diplomat to India said Wednesday that the West Asian country was in talks with India’s Ministry of External Affairs and Ministry of Civil Aviation for soon starting flights to ferry Indian citizens with the UAE’s residency visas or work permits to places like Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, etc.
Is there demand for flights from India to the UAE?
According to airline officials, thousands of Indian citizens with work permits and residency visas have been wanting to go back to their jobs in Dubai but could not because of the travel restrictions. “We have received thousands of requests from people saying if they do not return back to Dubai in time, they will be sacked from their jobs,” the official said. These people had arrived prior to the lockdown in March and have since been stranded here with no option to fly back. This has created a pent-up demand and the people have been approaching governments of both countries to allow them to fly to the UAE.
What are the requirements for Indian citizens to fly to the UAE?
According to the UAE’s Ambassador to India Ahmed Albanna, the country is allowing residency visa holders and tourists to now enter its borders given that they fulfill two conditions: one, they need approval from the UAE Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship, which can be taken online. Two, they need to have a Covid19 PCR test done no more than 96 hours from the date of arrival into the UAE. However, despite many ready to meet these stipulations, there are diplomatic bottlenecks for people to fly back.
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What are the bottlenecks for Indian citizens wanting to fly to the UAE?
The main bottleneck is the availability of a means of transport. Earlier, state-owned airlines Air India, and its subsidiary Air India Express were pulled up by the UAE authorities for ferrying regular passengers from India to the UAE on flights meant to specifically repatriate Indian citizens from the UAE to India. Following this, the carriers, which were the sole operators of Vande Bharat Mission at the time, suspended outbound traffic on these flights and advised passengers to get a specific approval from the UAE Embassy in New Delhi and the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation if they wished to travel on outbound legs of the repatriation flights. However, Albanna said Wednesday that point of contention was in India with the government here not opening up airports for foreign carriers to carry passengers from here.
How soon are flights expected to begin from India to the UAE?
The government is learnt to be in talks with several countries including the UAE, in addition to the US, France and Germany, to set up travel corridors that would allow airlines from countries of both the origin and the destination countries to carry passengers both ways. The UAE ambassador said during a webinar: “We have been talking and consulting with the Ministry of External Affairs and Ministry of Civil Aviation and hopefully very soon…there will be some operation dedicated to those Indians who are in India with valid residency and work permit, ICA approval and Covid19 PCR test to be able to travel from India into the UAE”.
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