Covid-19: Rush at airline offices after passenger flights from Uganda allowed to travel to UAE

Emirates recently announced the resumption of flights to and from Uganda



by

Ismail Sebugwaawo

Published: Sun 9 Jan 2022, 12:04 PM

Last updated: Mon 10 Jan 2022, 12:07 AM

Ugandan expats, who were stranded back home following the suspension of inbound passenger flights, were relieved after authorities allowed travellers from the African country to return to the UAE.

Many rushed to airline offices in Kampala on Saturday to rebook their tickets to the UAE. Dubai-based airline Emirates on Friday had announced the resumption of flights to and from Uganda (Entebbe), effective from January 8. Uganda Airlines also resumed flights from Entebbe to Dubai.

All inbound passenger flights from Uganda to Dubai had been suspended from December 28 as a precautionary measure to control the spread of Covid-19. The suspension of flights affected many expats who had travelled to Uganda for the holidays.

Phiona Nassuna, a teaching assistant at Al Salam Private School and Nursery in Dubai, said she travelled to Uganda on December 10 to spend Christmas with her family. She was supposed to return to Dubai on January 1 to resume work.

"I came to Uganda on Kenya Airways. When passenger flights from Kenya were suspended, our return tickets were transferred Emirates airlines. But on December 28, we received notifications that all Emirates flights to Dubai had been suspended, too, until further notice," she told Khaleej Times on Saturday while waiting in a long queue at the Emirates airline office in Kampala.

Nassuna added that the suspension affected her, as she was supposed to resume teaching on January 3 when schools opened for the second academic term.

"Good thing our school switched to remote learning during the first days of the new term," she said, adding that she was happy to learn passenger flights to the UAE had resumed.

"I have been here since morning to rebook a flight," she said. "I'm flying back to Dubai on Tuesday, January 11, so I can resume work. I was worried I might lose my job if I spent more days in Uganda."

Another expat, Nankya Mable, a school bus supervisor at GEMS Wellington Academy, Dubai Silicon Oasis, said she was also supposed to return to Dubai on January 1 after her short break.

"I communicated to my bosses about my situation and they told me to wait until the situation improves," she said. "Good thing the flights suspension has been lifted and we can now go back to the UAE and return to our jobs."

Susan Nagaddya, 38, an assistant teacher at Dubai American Academy, learnt about her flight suspension before her vacation ended.

"My employer extended my holiday for another two weeks until things improved," she said. "I'm happy that the flight suspension has been lifted. I have rebooked my flight with Emirates airline and I will be flying back to the UAE on January 13."

For Nepalese national Sofia Ghali, 34, and her daughter, the suspensions came just days before they were supposed to return to Dubai.

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"I came here with my daughter to see my husband. My daughter had the December school break and we were supposed to return on December 31," she said.

After being stranded in Uganda for nine days, Ghali said she is hoping she and her daughter will get seats on a flight.

"My child had to return to school on January 3, but she couldn’t as there were no flights to Dubai," she said. "I have been in the queue since 11am, waiting to rebook my flight. There have been a lot of people here. I wish I get a place so I can fly back to the UAE with my daughter and she can resume school.”

All passengers will have to meet UAE’s conditions of taking Covid-19 PCR tests within 48 hours before boarding, another test six hours before departure at Entebbe Airport, and the third test on arrival at Dubai airport.


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