Coronavirus Pandemic

India-UAE travel suspension: Authorities clarify who are exempted

Dhanusha Gokulan (Principal Correspondent)/Dubai Filed on April 25, 2021

How chartered flights will operate, GCAA clarifies.

Operation of ‘chartered flights by businessmen’, an exempted category on the India–UAE travel sector, are subject to strict approvals from civil aviation authorities and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA), officials told Khaleej Times.

The General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) confirmed that UAE citizens, diplomats, official delegations, golden residency visa holders and flights of businessmen are exempt from the entry restrictions on inbound passengers onboard India-UAE flights from April 25.

Providing clarification on the subject of ‘flights of businessmen’ a GCAA official told Khaleej Times: “The entry of this category of passengers is subject to approvals from MoFA and civil aviation authorities. It could be the use of ‘private jets’ for business purposes, however, the exemption is not meant to be used as a means of mass transport. They have to seek approvals from the airport before landing in the UAE, including providing a list of passengers on board the flights as well.”

Business travellers cannot use the exemption to charter large numbers of passengers from India to the UAE said the official. Moreover, the categories of exempted passengers must take a PCR test at the airport as well as on the fourth and the eighth day after they enter the Emirates and undergo quarantine upon arrival.

UAE authorities announced their decision to suspend inbound air traffic from for ten days India on Thursday, April 22, due to the steep rise in Covid-19 cases and deaths in India.

The rule is also applicable to transit passengers arriving from India, unless they stay in another country for a period of 14 days.

Due to the change in regulations, private and public carriers are now mulling over a change in frequencies of flights between both countries. An official with Air India Express said, “The decision can be made based on booking patterns in the coming days. If passenger traffic is low, that is, if there are only four to five passengers on an outbound flight, for example, we will look at clubbing them on days or flights where passengers traffic is heavy. If bookings are there, we are more than happy to meet the demand.”

A senior official with a private Indian carrier with operations in the UAE told Khaleej Times, “With regards to outward flow, we are yet to understand the trends. It should become more obvious in the coming days. It is too early to comment on these trends.” The official did state that over the past two days, several airlines operated at multiple frequencies between both countries. “Several additional sessions were operated between UAE and Kerala, especially towards Kochi, Kannur, and Calicut. Large swathes of residents who were vacationing in India and were desperate to return to their homes in the UAE have returned,” he said.

The official said this included those who wanted to bring their aged parents and children to the UAE has come into the country as well. “Residents believe it is much safer to be here in the UAE,” he said. Several passengers also flew to India over the past two days.

“People who want to be with their families, those who need to attend to emergency matters including bank work, legal or property work, or any kind of official visits will continue to travel to India in the coming days,” said Raja Mir Wasim, manager MICE and holidays, Galadari International Travel Services (ITS).

He added, “There are also a category of passengers who have postponed their travel plans and cancelled their bookings as they are averse to risk. Most airlines are offering free cancellations as well.”

South India continues to be a sector with the most demand. The India–UAE air travel corridor is one of the busiest in the world. Pre-Covid, Air India Express operated at least 400 flights per week between the two countries.


Dhanusha Gokulan

Originally from India, Dhanusha Gokulan has been working as a journalist for 10 years. She has a keen interest in writing about issues that plague the common person and will never turn down a human interest story. She completed her Bachelor in Arts in Journalism, Economics and English Literature from Mangalore University in 2008. In her spare time, she dabbles with some singing/songwriting, loves travelling and Audible is her favourite mobile application. Tweet at her @wordjunkie88

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