UAE expats disappointed as India delays international flights due to coronavirus
'Things are not going at all in our favour'
Expats stuck in India wishing to return to their families and jobs in the UAE, and expats wishing to travel to India on regular flights, have both expressed severe disappointment at India's decision to delay international commercial flights operations.
In a circular on Friday, India's aviation regulator Directorate-General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), announced that international flights to and from India shall stay suspended till July 15. The restriction will not apply to international cargo operations and flights specifically approved by the aviation regulator.
"However, international scheduled flights may be allowed on selected routes by competent authorities on a case-to-case basis," said the circular.
Mohit Mulchandani, an expat stuck in India since March, said: "The UAE has openly welcomed Indian airlines to repatriate their residents but why India is not giving permission to UAE carriers is unknown. It's very unfair to many of us."
Due to the long wait, many have lost their existing jobs in the UAE.
Ravi Tanna, another expat stuck in India, said: "Things are not going at all in our favour. I am seriously on a verge of losing my job. Furthermore, having to pay rent, electricity and other household expenses is making things extremely difficult."
Insiya Raheem, an expat stuck in Mangalore, Karnataka, said: "This is really a disaster for my family and me. What is the guarantee that the DGCA won't delay the commencement of flights any longer than July 15? My brother has lost his job. I need to get back to my job as soon as possible or I will lose mine as well."
Apart from the several thousand stranded expats in India wishing to return home to the UAE, there are several Indian citizens in the UAE who would like to go to India for medical emergencies and being with their families.
Vinayak Shivanand, a businessman in Dubai, who needs to travel to India for his sciatic surgery, said: "I have had to put aside this surgery for months already, and it's really difficult for me to keep working with this pain. I am not keen on taking a repatriation flight, and I'm not sure if I can come back."
Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said last week a decision regarding resuming international travel can be taken in the coming months, even earlier, when domestic air traffic would reach 50-55 per cent of its pre-Covid-19 capacity, and states would be in the position to absorb a higher number of passengers coming in.
Air India and other private domestic airlines have been operating unscheduled paid international repatriation flights under the Vande Bharat Mission that started on May 7 by the central government.
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