India and the United Arab Emirates governments have agreed to allow their airlines to carry eligible passengers on both legs of their charter flights between the two countries, the Ministry of Civil Aviation said on Thursday. These flights will be to be operated from July 12 to July 26.
However, only those with valid residence permit of UAE will be allowed to travel to the Arab country. The UAE government has also put forward two conditions for passengers coming back to its country. First, a passenger with a valid residence permit needs to take UAE Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship (ICA) approval before taking any flight to enter that country. This can be taken online. Second, passengers are required to carry COVID-19 test result of the PCR test, which is conducted not more than 96 hours before departure.
Currently, an Indian carrier operating a repatriation flight from the United Arab Emirates is not allowed to carry any passenger from India to the Gulf country. Similarly, a UAE carrier cannot carry passengers on the first leg of the charter flight, that is, from the UAE to India.
India has suspended all scheduled international passenger flights till July 31. In June, the UAE had obejcted to Air India flights entering the country, even if it was carrying UAE nationals from India. Such passengers who wished to travel from India to UAE on a Vande Bharat Mission flight from India to Dubai had to seek approval from the UAE Embassy in New Delhi.
Many Indian nationals who have valid residence permits of the UAE and are currently in India have been complaining on social media for the last few weeks about the lack of flights between the two countries.
Air India Express CEO K Shyam Sundar said on Twitter: "Happy to announce Air India Express has opened its flights between 12th and 26th July from India to UAE for sale to Indians with UAE Resident Permits."
Sundar's tweet came after the Civil Aviation Ministry announced on the microblogging site, "As part of the close strategic partnership between the governments of India and the UAE, and with a view to assisting UAE resident nationals who are at present in India to return to the UAE, the civil aviation authorities of both countries have agreed to operationalise the following arrangement from 12 July 2020."
Charter flights operated by UAE carriers will now be permitted to bring Indian citizens from the UAE to India and carry 'ICA-approved UAE residents' on their return leg, the ministry said.
The Civil Aviation Ministry said, "Indian carriers operating repatriation flights to bring Indian citizens from UAE to India will be allowed to carry the ICA-approved UAE residents (returning to UAE from India) on the outward journey from India to UAE."
On India to UAE journey, all these flights will carry only those passengers who are destined for the Gulf country, the Civil Aviation Ministry noted.
This arrangement will be initially in place for a period of 15 days â€” from July 12 to July 26 â€” and will be reviewed after that, it added.
Air India has opened bookings for passengers who wish to fly between July 12 to 26. Books can be made through their website, call centre or authorised travel agent, the Air India said. Passengers with valid RP also need to submit a health declaration form, download the COVID-19 DXB Smart App and submit a quarantine undertaking form.