India-UAE flights: Passenger traffic improves since lifting of restrictions
Travel numbers to hit pre-Covid levels by October, says Indian Consul-General
Passenger traffic between India and Dubai have considerably improved since the lifting of pandemic-triggered travel restrictions, a top official with Dubai Civil Aviation Authority (DCAA) said Wednesday.
"We are seeing a steady increase in passenger traffic between both countries ever since the new set of travel protocols was published by UAE authorities," Mohammed Abdulla Lengawi, executive director, aviation security and accident investigation sector at DCAA, told Khaleej Times.
Travel restrictions were imposed on inbound passengers from India after the South Asian country witnessed an unprecedented spike in Covid-19 cases in March this year.
The UAE placed similar limits on 13 other countries, many of which were in the sub-continent. However, UAE eased restrictions for Covid-vaccinated residents in early August, and since Monday, scores of tourists and entry permit holders have been seamlessly travelling into Dubai.
Indore-Dubai flight marks new beginning in India-UAE relations
Lengawi spoke to Khaleej Times on the sidelines of an Air India event that officially relaunched the passenger flight from Indore in Madhya Pradesh to Dubai.
India's flag carrier said the Indore-Dubai Air India flight is the first international operation for Devi Ahilyabai International Airport in Indore city. Air India relaunched the flight after a 17-month gap.
Lengawi said, "The direct flight between Indore and Dubai will help to increase passenger traffic and strengthen the relationship between UAE and India."
The DCAA official also said he expects many travellers from India to visit Dubai during Expo 2020 and participate in Expo-related events.
"In terms of the exact numbers of travellers from India, we are not yet sure. There is yet another month to go for the Expo, and a lot of it depends on the pandemic situation. However, Dubai Civil Aviation is coordinating with airlines to ensure the frequency of flights are approved on time, and there are no delays to impact airlines as well negatively," he added.
Union Civil Aviation Minister of India Jyotiraditya Scindia attended the launch event from Indore virtually. Meanwhile, in Dubai, several top officials from Dubai Airports, DCAA, Consul-General of India to Dubai and the Northern Emirates Dr Aman Puri, Air India officers, and community leaders welcomed 131 passengers on board the incoming flight at the arrivals gate at DXB.
Indian People’s Forum UAE president Jitendra Vaidya was also present. A total of 125 passengers departed on the same flight from DXB at 4.05 pm.
India-UAE travel numbers to hit pre-Covid numbers by October
Consul-General Dr Puri told Khaleej Times, "Dubai is a major transit hub that will allow passengers from Indore to access other international destinations as well. For Air India, this is a major step forward in increasing its net worth from Dubai."
"Looking forward, we believe that better connectivity with various Indian cities will be significantly important in enabling active participation for Expo 2020."
Dr Puri also stated that the traffic from India has increased since the easing of restrictions. "We are hoping to reach pre-Covid passenger traffic by next month."
While speaking at the event, Jamal Al Hai, deputy CEO of Dubai Airports, said, "We hope to see more flights from India as restrictions will ease up more and more."
The Consul-General also said the issue of stranded passengers had been mostly resolved ever since UAE eased the restrictions.
"With the few exceptional cases, where employers don't want to provide pre-travel GDRFA approval to their stranded employees, most other issues have been resolved," he added.
Dubai comprises 70 per cent of Air India's UAE operations
PP Singh, regional manager Gulf, Middle East and Africa, said Air India relaunched the new flight in direct response to the easing of international entry protocols and an upsurge in passenger demand.
"Indore is now the 14th destination of Air India on the UAE-India-UAE network, and the flight will operate every Wednesday of the week."
AI 955 will depart Indore at 12.35 pm and arrive in Dubai at 3.05 pm. Similarly, AI 956 will depart Dubai at 4.05 pm and arrive in Indore at 8.55 pm. Fares are priced at Dh310 one-way inclusive of all taxes.
"Depending on passenger traffic, we may also increase the frequency of flights to Indore. Before this direct line, passengers were travelling to Indore via Mumbai and Delhi. The flight was launched in 2019 and was discontinued in 2020 due to Covid-19," he explained.
Singh also said that 70 per cent of Air India's UAE operations are from Dubai. "Pre-Covid, Air India and Air India Express were operating 267 flights per week. Today, we are at 147 flights. At present, we are operating 79 flights from India per week."
"We have already recovered a little over 50 per cent. Furthermore, we are still operating as per norms set by the air bubble agreement between India and UAE."
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