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India bars private jets from flying to UAE, operators say

Dhanusha Gokulan (Principal Correspondent) Filed on July 9, 2020 | Last updated on July 9, 2020 at 11.55 am
India, UAE, covid-19, coronavirus, private jets

(Photo: Alamy)

The decision has disappointed desperate expats who are trying every means possible to return to the UAE.

Private jets - the only flights that had been flying in dozens of stranded Indians to the UAE - have been barred by India's Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA). With scheduled and repatriation flights not operating from India, private jets were getting increasingly popular among stranded expats, according to operators.

The decision came as a huge disappointment for desperate expats who are trying every means possible to return to the UAE. Many passengers who were supposed to fly from Mumbai and Hyderabad on July 9 said they had already paid for their tickets and were "absolutely devastated" following the DGCA's decision.

Expats shell up to Dh15,000 for a seat on the jets. The chartered jets were operating with all due permissions and clearances, said operators.

DC Aviation Al Futtaim, the only integrated VIP handling and hangar facility at the Dubai World Central, told Khaleej Times: "As a result of the DGCA suspension of flights into India, our Challenger 604 aircraft which was scheduled to land in Dubai today (Tuesday) has been affected."

Afi Ahmed, managing director of Smart Travels, said he received news from "official sources" that all approvals for operation of private jets have been barred until July 10.

"Even the flights that had been given approvals stand cancelled. Some flights organised on July 9 have also been grounded," said Ahmed, who was also stranded in Kochi, Kerala, till July 4. He had returned to the UAE onboard Global 6,000, the largest business jet, organised by a Dubai-based aviation company.

Ganesh Rayapudi, a UAE-based businessman who has been helping his friends, known persons and staff to organise charter jets from India to the UAE, told Khaleej Times: "The government has kept on hold all charters. At least 52 passengers were desperately waiting to come back from Hyderabad on these flights and were willing to collectively cough up Dh400,000.

"I agree that it is unfair on those who cannot afford these prices. However, the UAE residents have commitments here; they were tired of waiting and willing to go any lengths, including taking the expensive route."

On July 3, the DGCA announced scheduled international flights will remain suspended till the end of the month.


Dhanusha Gokulan

Originally from India, Dhanusha Gokulan has been working as a journalist for 10 years. She has a keen interest in writing about issues that plague the common person, and will never turn down a human interest story. She completed her Bachelor in Arts in Journalism, Economics, and English Literature from Mangalore University in 2008. In her spare time, she dabbles with some singing/songwriting, loves travelling, and Audible is her favourite mobile application. Tweet at her @wordjunkie88

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