India-UAE travel: Rapid PCR test services in place, but when will flights resume?


Photo: Supplied
Photo: Supplied

New Delhi - Authorities have ensured all protocols are in place, as they await the easing of travel restrictions.

By Joydeep Sen Gupta

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Published: Tue 13 Jul 2021, 6:13 PM

Last updated: Tue 13 Jul 2021, 6:18 PM

All set, but nowhere to go.

As the status quo with regard to the suspension of India-UAE flights lingers on, the Airport Authority of India (AAI) — which manages 34 international airports in the country — has been on its mark for the past three weeks, as it waits for operations to resume.

But when the travel restrictions will be lifted remains an open-ended question. Anxious stranded Indians are hopeful of a silver lining after the six-day Eid Al Adha break ends on July 24.

AAI authorities told Khaleej Times, on condition of anonymity, that they had been ready prior to the earlier announcement that flights could resume between India and Dubai from June 23.

The authorities maintained that all international airports in the country — over 10 at last count — have set up rapid PCR testing booths and promised to provide results to passengers within 30 minutes.

The services for these rapid PCR testing facilities have been outsourced to private companies in the country's respective states.

Authorities maintained that the number of on-site testing booths at airports was ramped up to help manage a likely uptick in travellers, who are looking to travel back to the UAE at the earliest, as they have now been stranded in India for over 10 weeks.

Besides the four international airports in Kerala, the rapid PCR testing facility is also available in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bengaluru, Mangaluru, and Ahmedabad.

However, the authorities noted they are still waiting on the UAE’s General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) to make an announcement regarding resumption of flights.

On Tuesday, travel agents also warned that seat availability on airlines does not imply that restrictions on flights from these countries will be lifted from July 15, as has been erroneously reported in a section of the Indian media.

As per the new travel protocols announced on June 19, only passengers with a valid Dubai residence visa who have also received two doses of a UAE-approved vaccine can fly into the Emirate.

On arrival, all passengers from India must undergo institutional quarantine until they receive their PCR test results, which are expected within 24 hours.

However, quarantine restrictions do not apply to Emiratis and diplomats.

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