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Coronavirus: Special, regular flights to bring stranded UAE residents back

Waheed Abbas/Dubai
Filed on June 1, 2020 | Last updated on June 1, 2020 at 06.33 am
repatriation, special flight, residence visa, coronavirus, covid-19

(Reuters)

UAE carriers are scheduled to operate flights to around 36 destinations this month.

UAE residents who are stranded abroad and holding valid residence visas can fly back to the country from today (June 1) through scheduled and special repatriation flights being operated by local carriers.

The UAE carriers are scheduled to operate flights to around 36 destinations this month. Dubai-based Emirates will be serving nine destinations, while Abu Dhabi-based Etihad will be flying to 17 destinations. Budget carrier flydubai is operating special repatriation flights to 10 countries. Some of the destinations are being served by more than one UAE carrier.

However, these flights are subject to change as airlines and authorities in the UAE and other countries are discussing modalities about the procedures due to Covid-19-triggered changes.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship (ICA) announced on May 18 that residents with valid visas stranded outside the country can return from June 1. This decision stems from the "UAE's keenness to enable those holding valid residence visas to get reunited with their families due to flight disruptions".

Procedure

Hundreds of UAE residents are currently stuck abroad and separated from their families due to the unexpected freeze on air travel imposed by many countries as precautionary measures to curb the spread of coronavirus.

Earlier, residents had to register on a MoFA service called Twajudi, which fast-tracked the return of humanitarian or special cases.

Now, these residents can register on the website of the ICA. Emirates said those travellers who have approval from the ICA will be accepted to travel back.

Flydubai said in a statement that it continues to work closely with governments and the relevant authorities to support efforts to bring residents back to the UAE. It said further announcements will be made "about our flying schedule".

Etihad opens new bookings from July 1

Etihad is working closely with the UAE government and global aviation authorities with an aim to gradually return to a fuller schedule as soon as circumstances allow.

It said on Sunday that it has opened new bookings for flights across its network from July 1 onwards and is set to increase special flights in June.

In addition, the national carrier said all bookings made after April 29 for travel between July 1 and August 31, 2020 are fully flexible and refundable.

"As Etihad prepares for an eventual return to full schedule of international flights to and from Abu Dhabi, subject to the lifting of travel restrictions, we have started accepting new bookings for flights across our network from July 1, onwards. Throughout May and June, we are also increasing the number of special flights we are operating from Abu Dhabi to several key destinations around the world, including new transit flights between the United Kingdom and Australia," the airline said in a statement.

What happens when residents return (Source: Emirates)

Stringent entry restrictions remain in place upon arrival in Dubai

> Mandatory Dubai Health Authority test on arrival

> Mandatory 14-day quarantine

> Follow-up test before release

Safety first: Before flying

> Temperature checks for passengers via thermal scanners

> Passengers must wear masks and gloves

> Maintain proper distance from other passengers

> No handshakes or hugs

waheedabbas@khaleejtimes.com


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