UAE flights: Stranded expats fly back on Day 2

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Dubai - Over 28 flights from India brought stranded expats into Dubai and Sharjah airports on Friday.

By SM Ayaz Zakir

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Published: Sat 7 Aug 2021, 12:59 AM

Last updated: Sat 7 Aug 2021, 1:04 AM

Hundreds of stranded Indians flew into Dubai and Sharjah on the second day after the resumption of flights for certain exempted inbound passengers from India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Nigeria and Uganda.

Over 28 flights from India brought stranded expats into Dubai and Sharjah airports on Friday, according to an estimate by Khaleej Times based on the information from the airlines’ websites. A total of 20 flights landed in Dubai and eight in Sharjah. Most of the flights operated at about 50 per cent of their capacity, according to sources.

Khaleej Times spoke to a few passengers who arrived from various Indian cities at the Dubai International Airport on Friday.

Saravanan Ravi Kumar, who works at a hospitality management firm at the Dubai World Trade Centre, reached Dubai in the early hours of Friday. The Dubai resident had travelled to India to be with his ailing mother. But he remained stranded in his hometown for several months. “I had gone to India in April for just a week. I remained stranded ever since. As I read about the news on the resumption of flights, I booked the tickets and got hold of every document that was required.”

Saravanan said the rapid PCR test at the Chennai Airport costs around Rs4,000 (Dh200). “I paid about Rs30,000 (Dh1,500) for a one way ticket of Emirates airline from Chennai. One has to reach the airport at least five hours before the take-off to complete all the required procedures,” he added.

Upon arrival in Dubai, Saravanan underwent a PCR test at the airport and was advised to stay isolated until the result was out.

In another instance, it was a joyful reunion for a Dubai family when expat Saju Kizhakkekara and his wife met their children after a gap of four months.

Their son Kailasnath and daughter Durga had gone to India for vacation in March and were scheduled to return on April 29. But as the travel suspension from India was imposed, they were stranded.

“When we heard of the flights resumption, we booked the tickets right away for Rs75,000 (Dh3,750).”

Earlier, Saju had booked and cancelled the ticket twice as there was no concrete information available on the resumption of service. He even planned a vacation to a third country to reunite with his children and return to Dubai.

“Our visas to Armenia were issued and we were ready to travel. We cancelled the trip as we heard of the travel resumption from India,” Saju said. He said the procedure is quite easy and his children did not face any problems. “All the valid documents should be produced at the Kochi Airport. The rapid PCR test at the airport cost Rs2,500 (Dh125) per head,” he added.

Meanwhile, many flights from Pakistan have been cancelled as the airports in the country have not been equipped with rapid PCR test facilities yet. A few UAE residents stranded in Karachi called Khaleej Times to explain the situation at the airports. They reached the airport at 3am only to find that they would not be allowed to fly.

“There is no rapid PCR test facility at the airport. The officers at the airport told us that they learnt about this situation a few hours before the flight timings,” one of them told Khaleej Times.

One among them was a Golden Visa holder, who was not allowed to board the plane. “I tried convincing them that I am a Golden Visa holder. It was of no use. I have to be stranded a few more days, I believe,” he told Khaleej Times.

Stranded residents in Sri Lanka too faced similar situation. Dr Yaheya Arfath, who was expecting his family member from Sri Lanka on Saturday, is disappointed as the rapid PCR facility is not installed at Sri Lankan airports. “I was expecting my cousins and they have already booked the tickets. But I guess they have to postpone their return as the rapid PCR facility is not available at the departing airport.” Dr Yaheya said.

Flights from India to land in Abu Dhabi from today

Flights from some Indian cities to Abu Dhabi will resume from August 7, the UAE’s national carrier Etihad Airways has said.

From August 10, the airline will begin flights from three additional Indian cities for travel to the UAE, as well as from three Pakistani cities.

Between August 7 and 9, the airline will operate services from Chennai, Kochi, Bengaluru, Trivandrum and New Delhi, Etihad said on its website.

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