Dubai: Indian expats stuck in India should wait for UAE Government confirmation on resumption of flights before making any bookings, according to travel industry sources.
“Most airlines are selling non-refundable tickets, so it is better to wait for official approval before booking,” said a spokesperson at Deira Travel & Tourist Agency.
Although Etihad, in its latest update, set July 31 as the date for resumption of flights from India, there is no confirmation of a date from the government as yet. “We are looking at maybe the first week of August – people are really waiting for travel to come back from India,” said a spokesperson for Rayna Tours and Travels. There have been times “when the booking was accepted from our end, but the airlines did not open and we had to cancel.
“This time, we will not make the same mistake.”
With the Expo set to open October 1, there are “good chances” of flights resuming soon, said a spokesperson for Regal Tours. “We can only make predictions as there is no solid information on the re-opening of flights. India has fewer COVID-19 cases now and most countries have begun allowing in passengers from the country.”
Emirates awaits signal
Emirates airline last week said resumption of flights from India and Pakistan are subject to a UAE “government review” and that the carrier will wait for authorities to make a decision.
“The routes are subject to development of the situations in these countries,” said Adel Al Redha, Emirates’ Chief Operating Officer, during a media briefing. “The government and command-and-control centres are continuously reviewing their development and the protocols required. We will wait to see what is coming out from the government – but there is a constant review of the development and the spread of the virus.”
UAE suspended inbound flights from India in April due to a surge in the ‘Delta’ variant of the COVID-19 virus. The date for the resumption of travel was postponed several times thereafter. (The variant has been detected in 12 states in India and sparked concerns of a third wave. The World Health Organisation says the latest variant spreads even faster and binds more easily to lung cells.)
Passengers who have connected through India, Pakistan, Bangladesh or Sri Lanka in the last 14 days will not be accepted to travel from any other point to the UAE. UAE Nationals, holders of UAE Golden Visas, and members of diplomatic missions who comply with updated COVID-19 protocols are exempt.
UAE’s General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), which did not immediately respond to a Gulf News request for comment, had previously said that inbound passenger traffic from India would remain suspended until further notice.
“As far as inbound passenger traffic from India is concerned, the status quo remains,” an official said in June. “We are closely monitoring the situation in India, and a decision on when to lift the suspension on inbound travellers will be taken keeping in mind the safety and security of all parties involved.”