Covid-19: Indian expats rushing back to UAE as flight suspension date nears
Only those with Covid tests done 48 hours before flight and have negative report allowed to board flight.
With the ban on flights from India to the UAE for 10 days from Sunday, there is a sudden rush of passengers, mainly expats, wanting to return to Dubai, Abu Dhabi and other parts of the UAE.
Airline sources here confirm the rush but say that only those who have Covid tests done 48 hours before the flight and have a negative report, will be allowed to fly to the UAE.
An agency report cited a woman passenger who is scheduled to travel from Kolkata to Dubai on Saturday 2am, making desperate attempts to advance the departure by a day to avoid getting caught up in last-minute hitches.
“I just wanted to make sure whether I will be allowed to board on my existing ticket as April 24 should mean the midnight separating Friday and Saturday,” she told an agency.
“When all my calls went unanswered, I had to take a quick call and make a new booking for a Friday morning flight.”
India-UAE is one of the busiest routes globally, especially from Mumbai and Delhi to Dubai. Thousands of Indians also take flights to cities in the US, Canada and Europe via Dubai and Abu Dhabi. They include Indians living in those countries or their relatives back home.
And for tens of thousands of Indians, especially celebrities and the affluent, the UAE is a major holiday destination and the flights are usually packed with them. There are also hundreds of business barons who fly regularly to Dubai and other parts of the UAE.
But the ban on flights to India is unlikely to impact many of them, as they have the option of taking private jets or chartering flights. Kanika Tekriwal, founder and CEO, JetSetGo, was quoted by the Times of India as saying that she had received a hundred queries about chartering flights to the UAE, within three hours of the announcement of the ban.
Chartering business jets or mid-sized aircraft costs around Rs3 million to Rs4 million from Mumbai or Dubai to the UAE and back, and many well-off Indians and corporates regularly opt for these services.
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