India-UAE flights: How this family with Golden Visas flew to Dubai
The Hassans were one of only two families on board an Emirates flight from Kochi to Dubai on Sunday.
Two families from Kerala were the latest UAE residents to make news, when they arrived in Dubai on an Emirates flight early Sunday morning, amid a temporary suspension of flights from Covid-struck India.
Despite entry restrictions on passengers arriving from the virus-stricken nation, Indian expatriates who hold a golden visa are exempted from the stringent norm.
Younus Hassan, the chairman and managing director of Al Irshad Computers, a computer sales company, is one such golden residency visa holder.
His wife Hafsa and children — Nihla Yunus, Nujum Yunus, Mohammad Hilal, and Mohammad Hani Hamdan — received the golden visa under his sponsorship and were on board the flight as well.
A second four-member family was also on the flight, according to Hassan; however, due to social distancing norms, they avoided communicating with each other.
Hassan’s younger children — Hilal and Hani — are students of Our Own English High School at Al Warqa in Dubai. “My older daughter has completed her undergraduate studies and is looking to pursue her postgraduate degree. The second one is studying engineering at MES College of Engineering, Kuttippuram,” he said.
“My family and I travelled to our hometown in Kozhikode during the first week of April after the children’s school closed for the spring break,” Hassan told Khaleej Times.
“While I returned 10 days later, my family extended their stay for a few more weeks to take care of our family’s needs back home. Since my younger children are attending online classes, they decided to stay back home,” he added.
How did the Hassans get approvals to fly?
The family applied for special approvals from the General Directorate of Residency and Foreign Affairs (GDRFA) to make the trip. “When we reached out to Emirates Airlines asking them about the process, they asked us to approach the GDRFA authorities,” said Hassan.
The application was made online on the authority’s website, and approvals came through within a day.
“Honestly, it was a very seamless experience. We had to provide all the proper paperwork including our visa copy,” he said. The approvals were mailed to the Emirates Airlines’ office in Kochi and the family’s tickets were booked for Dh9,000. “I’ve spent more on seasonal tickets to and from Kerala,” he said.
The family also underwent PCR tests 48 hours before boarding the flight.
Travel hurdles in Kerala
Since the Hassans live at Nadapuram in Kozhikode district, which is located 12 hours away from Kochi International Airport (KIA), they left their home at 10am the previous morning and drove to Kochi.
“The flight was to depart from KIA at 4.30am and there are several roadblocks. Certain districts are under lockdown due to a rise in daily Covid-19 cases. We didn’t want to take any risks,” said Hassan.
“There are roadblocks and strict checks when you cross each district. The inter-district travel approvals had to be applied for through a local mobile app. They are granted by Kerala Police officials,” he said.
The family arrived in Kochi at 9pm and reached the airport at around midnight. “There was a three-hour buffer at the airport and we arrived in Dubai at 6.30am on Sunday. It was a hectic and long journey, but I’m glad we’re back,” he added.
At the airport, each family member was assigned an air hostess. “They accompanied us. Normally, passengers have to stand in a queue at the immigration counter, but we didn’t have to go through the tedious process, as the air hostess took care of the formalities,” Nihla said.
The family underwent PCR tests at the Dubai International Airport (DXB) as well. “The results returned negative. We’re now on a mandatory 10-day quarantine at home,” Hassan added.
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