India-UAE travel: Visit visa holders to benefit the most as Covid PCR testing rules are eased

Air India Express, SpiceJet, and Go Air announced exemption to carry negative PCR tests for travellers


Waheed Abbas

Published: Sun 20 Feb 2022, 2:32 PM

Last updated: Sun 20 Feb 2022, 10:48 PM

The Indian airlines’ decision to drop the Covid-19 PCR test requirement for passengers flying from UAE to India who received the two doses of vaccine in India will boost tourist inflows from India to UAE, say travel industry executives.

They called for the further easing of travel restrictions and removal of rapid PCR test requirements at the Indian airport before departure to UAE, which will substantially boost passenger traffic flow between the two countries.

On Saturday, Air India Express, SpiceJet, and Go Air announced exemption to carry negative PCR tests for travellers from UAE to India who have received the two jabs of the vaccines in India.

This new relaxation doesn’t cover travellers who obtained vaccines in the UAE.

TP Sudheesh, general manager of Deira Tours and Travels, said generally, all the Indian carriers have started accepting passengers who have taken jabs in India.

“There are many passengers from India here on a visit visa who came to explore Expo 2020 Dubai. And this being the nearest point from India as well as easy availability of visas and affordable fares, passenger traffic will definitely increase because it’s now easier and less hassle to travel.

"Many people who were stuck in India due to Covid-19 restrictions have started flocking to UAE. This facility extended by the Indian carriers is definitely a blessing for them,” he said.

“It may not much impact resident because they have got the vaccine in the UAE. But the visit visa holders from India who are currently in the UAE are very happy with this new facility extended by the Indian government,” Sudheesh told Khaleej Times in an interview on Sunday.

He added that 90 per cent of the people who will benefit from the easing of the rules would be those who are on a visit visa or come on a short business trip because they obtained the vaccines in India.

In addition, passengers flying directly from Kolkata to Dubai have also been exempted from rapid PCR tests at the airport, according to Emirates, flydubai, Air India and IndiGo.

These latest announcements come in the wake of the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (Cepa) signed between the two nations on Friday.

Earlier, New Delhi had also scrapped quarantine requirements for international travellers as the number of new coronavirus cases is very low.

Wasim Raja, manager, MICE and holidays, Galadari International Travel Services, also echoed Sudheesh views, saying travel demand will definitely go up because the PCR test has been a big challenge for vaccinated travellers.

According to Raja, this new rule will also benefit the UAE residents who received vaccines in India and will have to travel in an emergency. “They just need to carry their Covid-19 certificate and buy a ticket to travel to India,” he said, adding that some other countries are also dropping PCR test requirements for vaccinated travellers. “Demand is bound to pick up if the UAE and India drop the rapid PCR test requirement also.”


The UAE is one of the most popular destinations and busiest air routes from India. Abu Dhabi International Airport figures released last week showed India emerging as the top destination for Abu Dhabi, followed by Pakistan, Egypt, the US and Saudi Arabia.

TP Sudheesh added that more than the commercial or financial aspect of this new change, it’s the flexibility of the procedural comfort that the passengers are happy about.

He added that there are high hopes that the regular flight operations will be restored and the rapid PCR test at the Indian airports will be removed which would nearly double the passenger traffic between the two countries.

“After the signing of bilateral agreements under CEPA, these are expectations that restrictions will further be eased and regular air traffic is reinstated. Another major concern for residents and visitors is the rapid PCR test at the airport which should be removed,” he suggested.

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