Dubai: Dealing a big blow to Indian citizens waiting to travel to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Air India has announced that its flights on the route will not operate till July 6.
Air India’s decision was conveyed as a reply on Twitter to an enquiry by a passenger. The airline also asked travellers to check its website and Twitter account for updates.
Apart from Air India, other airlines such as Emirates too are yet to make an official announcement on resumption of flights to the UAE.
Even though UAE had announced lifting of the travel ban from June 23, uncertainty had been prevailing over flight services as airlines including Air India and Air India Express did not open booking. An Air India official had told Manorama Online on June 22 that no decision had been taken on flight services as the authorities concerned had not given the necessary instructions.
However, quoting the National Disaster Management Authority, the Dubai Media Office tweeted the other day that the travel ban would end on June 23. Based on this information, Emirates opened flight booking but closed it within an hour. FlyDubai and Indigo airlines also had started preparations for conducting flights from June 24 but they are yet to make an official announcement.
Airports lack rapid test facility
It is learnt that the main hurdle for resumption of flights is the condition to produce a negative test result of a rapid test for COVID-19 done within four hours before the start of the trip. Facilities for the tests are yet to be arranged at airports across India.
Even though the Kerala government had announced that rapid test would be conducted at the airports in the state, there has been no confirmation on the matter.
According to UAE authorities, people who have received both doses of the vaccines approved by them could travel to the Gulf nation. Again, there is confusion among airline companies on allowing those who had received the vaccine months ago, children and people with expired visas to travel to the UAE. It is also not clear whether clearance should be obtained from GDRFA (General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs-Dubai) and ICA (Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship). Officials of Air India and Air India Express said that they would wait till all these issues are sorted out before resuming ticket booking.
Jobs at stake
The delay in resumption of flights has affected thousands of Indians, including from Kerala, who had arrived in the country for their vacation. Many of them said that they could even lose their jobs in the UAE.
UAE had imposed a ban on flights from the India from April 25 considering the COVID-19 situation here. Later, the ban was extended by 10 days and later indefinitely as the cases mounted in India. The Emirates and Air India had announced that flights from India will stand cancelled till June 14.
People who gave received both doses of the following vaccines can travel to Dubai:
• Chinese vaccine Sinopharm
• Russia’s Sputnik V
• Oxford-AstraZeneca, which is referred to as Covishield in India.
QR Code: The negative certificate of PCR test should carry the QR code.
Test at Dubai: All travellers arriving in Dubai have to undergo a PCR at the international airport there.
Quarantine: Travellers should remain in quarantine at their place of stay till the result of the PCR test is released. According to the authorities, the result would be available within 24 hours.