UAE flight ban extended until July 6, says Air India

Passengers who have booked flights for the affected dates can rebook for a later date, reports Asian Lite News

Air India Express has told passengers the UAE flight ban from India will run until July 6. The budget carrier said the UAE’s General Authority of Civil Aviation extended the date from June 30 for all inbound passenger flights.

The suspension does not apply to UAE citizens or diplomats. Passengers who have booked flights for the affected dates can rebook for a later date.

The UAE had extended the suspension of passenger flights from India till June 30 to combat the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. The ban was initially imposed on April 25, after a surge in Covid-19 cases in India.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia has lifted a ban on travellers arriving from 11 countries that it imposed to curb the spread of coronavirus. Travellers from the United Arab Emirates, Germany, the United States, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, the United Kingdom, Sweden, Switzerland, France and Japan, will be allowed entry.

India-UAE flights to remain suspended until June 30

Expatriates stranded in India had been seeking to travel back using charter services or via ‘transit’ stops such as Bahrain or former Soviet states such as Uzbekistan to fulfil the 14-day ‘quarantine’ period outside India.

Meanwhile, the Indian government had extended the ban on international flights till 30 June, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) had said in a circular. However, it said that the Covid-related restrictions will not apply to international all-cargo operations and flights specifically approved by the DGCA.

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The development comes as India announced that its daily Covid-19 case numbers have fallen to less than 100,000 for the first time in two months.

The number of people infected in the past 24 hours was 86,498, the lowest in 66 days. The total number of people to have contracted the virus stands at about 28.9 million.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had on Monday announced free vaccines for all adults and promised to speed up the nation’s under-pressure inoculation drive.

UAE-based Indians cancel summer holiday plans

Several UAE-based Indian expats have either cancelled or put their summer vacation plans on hold in the fear of getting stuck amid Covid-induced travel curbs. The period between June to August are usually peak travel times for Indian expatriates, as they coincide with school summer holidays.

Raheesh Babu, general manager of Musafir.com, an online travel agency, said: “Peak travels to India are closely tied with school holiday seasons. In this case, the UAE has announced a robust vaccination campaign for students aged 12-15. Parents are concerned that, if they travel over the summer, their children might miss their vaccination schedule. Due to this, there is a high chance that school students may have to return to campus in September. Since the travel situation to India is highly volatile, residents are avoiding the trip because they also fear getting stranded.”

Babu added that the agency has already received several cancellations on bookings.

Taking the long route to UAE

Several expats are stranded in India, with some resorting to 15-day journeys to return to the UAE.

Afraid of losing their jobs, some expats have been travelling to the UAE via Armenia and Uzbekistan. They spend 15 days in quarantine at those destinations before returning to the UAE.

Passenger entry from India to the UAE, one of the world’s busiest air corridors, was suspended on April 25. Since then, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka have been added to the list, in addition to Nigeria and South Africa.

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