Earlier on in June 2020, the UAE had started to open up the country out of its lockdown which the UAE was placed in late March 2020. They were allowing foreigners with resident permits to return to the country, however, subject to ICA approval. However, with India’s international flights being suspended, there was no way to fly to the UAE. India’s nationalised carriers were hoping to cash in on this opportunity. However, the UAE pushed back, given their airlines were not allowed to operate to India at all, and the people stuck in India wanting to fly to the UAE suffered.
Just about a couple of days ago, India’s Ministry of Civil Aviation announced that they would allow open access to airlines of both countries to fly between India and the United Arab Emirates freely between July 12 and July 26. As per this unique arrangement, Indian carriers operating repatriation flights & UAE carriers operating charter flights to bring Indian citizens from UAE to India can now carry ICA-approved UAE residents from India to UAE.
This arrangement will be in place for 15 days from 12-26 July 2020, and only allows the carriage of residents who want to fly to the UAE. Here is the MoCA announcement, on a plain piece of paper, no less.
This means for a limited window of 15 days, the UAE carriers such as Emirates, Etihad, flyDubai and Air Arabia will be able to fly to India with charter traffic and take people back to the UAE in the return leg back to the UAE. Indian carriers such as SpiceJet, Vistara, IndiGo, GoAir, Air India, Air India Express will be able to fly those with UAE resident visa and permissions to fly to the UAE on their empty legs as well.
This announcement came to the fore late evening on Thursday, July 9, 2020, and since then airlines have worked hard to push out schedule information for flights which they will be operating from India to the UAE. A clearer picture has now emerged for this arrangement which begins to take off from today (July 12, 2020). Here are the options for those who want to fly between India and the UAE. A valid Negative COVID – 19 PCR test report from a government-approved laboratory, no older than 96 hours prior departure is mandatory for travel back to Sharjah, Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
Emirates, the airline, has announced they be operating special repatriation flights to five Indian cities between July 12-26 to assist stranded Indians to get home and for residents of UAE currently in India to return to the UAE. The flights will be operated to Bengaluru, Delhi, Kochi, Mumbai and Thiruvananthapuram offering the following flight frequencies:
- Bengaluru: twice-daily flights
- Delhi: twice-daily flights
- Kochi: twice-daily flights
- Mumbai: thrice daily flights
- Thiruvananthapuram: once-daily flights
The flights to Bengaluru and Mumbai are subject to state government approval. All the flights are being operated by the Boeing 777 aircraft, and
Flights can be booked on emirates.com, through travel agents, Emirates’ sales offices and contact centre. Passengers must meet all the entry requirements of the destination to be allowed to board the flights. Only Indian citizens stranded in the UAE will be allowed to fly from Dubai to the five Indian destinations. For India to UAE, flights will be available for UAE nationals and residents with prior entry approval from the General Directorate of Residency and Foreign Affairs (GDFRA) for residents of Dubai and ICA approval for residents of other emirates of the UAE.
All passengers travelling from airports in India to Dubai are also required to carry a negative Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) certificate issued by a laboratory authorised by the government of India to be accepted on the flight. Certificates must be issued no more than 96 hours before departure.
The flights are now readily available on Emirates.com, and you can book directly.
Etihad has stated that that they will start operating special flights between Abu Dhabi and Bengaluru, Chennai, New Delhi, Hyderabad, Kochi and Mumbai between July 15 and 26, 2020.
To fly out of Abu Dhabi to India, you need to arrive at Abu Dhabi airport 6 hours before your flight for a mandatory rapid test before check-in. For flights from India to the UAE, you need ICA approval to be allowed to fly to the UAE.
Here are the flights available:
- Kochi (to/fro): 3 flights with 787-9
- Bengaluru (to/fro): 9 flights with 787-9
- Delhi (to/fro): 10 flights with 787-10
- Mumbai (to/fro): 11 flights with 77W
- Hyderabad (to/fro): 3 flights with 787-9
- Chennai (to/fro): 9 flights with 787-10
Etihad has also confirmed they will accept the GDFRA approval in case people are headed to Dubai on an Etihad Airways flight.
Hi Irfan, to fly inbound to Abu Dhabi, you either need a valid ICA or GDFRA approval from the government. Both approvals are accepted. *Ivy
— Etihad Help (@EtihadHelp) July 11, 2020
FlyDubai has put up on sale many flights to fly to/from India, to be operated by their 737-800 equipment:
- Mumbai: 8 flights to/fro Dubai
- Delhi: 8 flights to/fro Dubai
- Hyderabad: 8 flights to/fro Dubai
- Kochi: 16 flights to/fro Dubai
- Thirunavanthanapuram: 2 flights to/fro Dubai
Air Arabia has announced they will have flight operations from Sharjah to the following cities in India, using their A320 fleet. Most flights are operating daily, and some days you even have double daily flights.
All these flights are available on the Air Arabia website for sale.
IndiGo is operating a few flights to Dubai and Abu Dhabi on July 12-14, 2020 at the moment. Those who want to fly out can book themselves for these flights and will need a CoVid-19 negative test taken in the prior 96 hours.
SpiceJet is going to fly to Ras-Al-Khaimah instead of Dubai and Abu Dhabi with their 737-800 aircraft but will provide bus transit to Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah from thereon. Here are the planned flights for SpiceJet, which will operate almost daily from Kozhikode, Kochi, Delhi and Mumbai between July 12 to 26, 2020.
Air India Express
Air India Express is going to operate about five flights a day to the UAE from Indian stations. Here is the list of flights, all of which are available for booking on www.airindiaexpress.in.
With this, there are more than ample flights for the time being to transport people who work in the UAE back to the UAE, as well as some more flights for Indians stuck to be brought back to India. You can book these flights directly on the airline website or use MakeMyTrip.com or other travel portals to find out the flights available for you to book as well.
Remember, these flights are only for residents of the UAE, not even to transfer onwards to another flight to the USA or anything like that. So, only book once you have the approval of the UAE to enter.
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