Covid-19: UAE-Pakistan flight restrictions hit expats' travel plans
Many of them had to cancel their trips during Eid holidays because of travel restrictions put in place by both Pakistan and the UAE
Pakistani expats in the UAE are either cancelling or altering travel plans to their home country due to uncertainty surrounding flight suspensions and travel ban.
Many of them were forced to alter their travel itineraries during Eid Al Fitr holidays after Pakistan reduced international airlines’ flights by 80 per cent from May 5 and later the UAE put a ban on entry from Pakistan from May 12.
Etihad Airways and flydubai also confirmed to Khaleej Times on Wednesday that temporary reduction of flights to Pakistan will continue till June 15 in line with the instructions of the Pakistan government.
However, many expats are concerned that travel restrictions and flight suspension might be extended till Eid Al Adha, which will fall in the third week of July. They fear that if the restrictions continue that would once again impact their travel plans.
Sanaullah Habibullah, a resident of Fujairah, said he decided to cancel his trip to home because returning to the UAE could be a challenge considering the uncertainties and he can’t afford to stay outside the country for too long because of his business here.
“We had planned to go to Pakistan during summer vacation and return after Eid Al Adha. But we had to cancel it because returning to the UAE could be a bigger challenge. Even if my family prolongs vacation for 2-3 months that’s not an issue. But I have to return on time to look after my business,” said Habibullah, who owns a transport business.
“I planned to go on vacation during Eid Al Fitr with family but it was postponed due to travel restrictions. I’m still holding back my travel plan because it’s still uncertain that I’ll be able to return to the UAE in time. And any delay in return will impact my business,” said Najum us Saqib, a long-time UAE resident.
Hassan Shoukat, who has been a UAE resident for over 13 years, couldn’t visit his family back in Pakistan for more than a year due to travel restrictions imposed by either Pakistan or the UAE. "I was about to travel in March, but cancelled the plan on the advice of my colleagues due to the rising number of Covid-19 cases in Pakistan. Again, I planned my vacations for Eid Al Fitr, but unfortunately, Pakistan reduced the number of flights from the UAE and then the UAE banned Pak flights. Still, I don’t know when I will be able to meet my family back home,” he said.
Keeping in view of the current situation, he said, it seems difficult to travel in the near future unless the Covid-19 situation improves dramatically.
“I have delayed my annual leave twice, but can’t delay further due to office regulations. If the flight ban is not lifted, I will have to spend my leave here only. The governments should look for a way out to facilitate the travel at least for vaccinated residents,” said Shoukat.
Abdul Hassan, another long-time UAE resident, is also desperate to celebrate Eid Al Adha with his family back home but he’s not sure whether it’ll be possible. He said vaccine passports could be a solution for the current crisis instead of complete travel ban.
Waseem Ahmed, a Sharjah-based resident for over 20 years, said he had opted out of his vacation plans in March because of travel restrictions.
“My family was expecting me on Eid Al Fitr but I couldn't make it due to the flight suspension. As the number of Covid-19 cases are falling in Pakistan, I hope flights will resume soon with full capacity.”
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