It seems when it rains, it pours. A couple of days ago, Air India got a rap on its knuckles where the US Department of Transport barred Air India from mounting humanitarian missions to/from the US without permission and scrutiny from the US DoT. Now, this playbook is being played out around the globe to sensitize the Government of India that they will be given the same rights as they offer the other countries, on the principles of reciprocity.
The UAE borders were closed in late March 2020, and UAE has just unveiled a graded reopening plan. Air India/AI Express has been operating repatriation flights from the UAE for over a month now. The UAE has started to open up, and the UAE government had previously stated that it would allow people with specific permission from the UAE to enter back into the UAE. Dubai has made a separate decision to allow everyone with a work/residency permit back into the country. However, given Indian borders are closed, scheduled operations of international flights from India are closed, at least till June 30, 2020.
Now, the UAE NOTAM reads as follows, and valid till June 30, 2020. Look out for the Yellow Markup.
A1197/20 NOTAMR A1190/20
A) OMAE B) 2006040921 C) 2006302359 EST
E) COVID-19: FLIGHT RESTRICTIONS
ALL INTL FLIGHTS FROM/TO AIRPORTS IN UNITED ARAB EMIRATES (UAE) OMAE SHALL BE OPERATED AS PER CONDITIONS SPECIFIED IN THE LATEST ISSUE OF SAFETY DECISION 2020-01. THIS RESTRICTION DOES NOT AFFECT THE FOLLOWING FLIGHTS:
1. FLIGHTS WITH TRANSIT AND TRANSFER PASSENGERS CONDUCTED FROM/TO UAE AIRPORTS PROVIDED THE AIR OPERATOR IS CERTIFIED BY GCAA IN ACCORDANCE WITH PUBLIC HEALTH MEASURES ENDORSED BY NCEMA.
2. ACFT IN STATE OF EMERGENCY AS PER INTL STANDARDS.
3. UAE REGISTERED AIRCRAFT RETURNING TO UAE CARRYING ONLY UAE NATIONALS AND OPERATOR’S CREW-MEMBERS.
4. EVACUATION, MEDEVAC, FERRY, CARGO FLIGHTS AND TECHNICAL LANDINGS PROVIDED THEY COMPLY WITH THE LATEST ISSUE OF SAFETY DECISION 2020-01.
6. DOMESTIC FLIGHTS PROVIDED THEY COMPLY WITH THE LATEST ISSUE OF SAFETY DECISION 2020-13.
The General Civil Aviation Authority of the UAE’s latest Safety Decision 2020-01, available here sheds guidance on the issue. All foreign airline operators to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have to adhere to the conditions and restrictions mentioned during repatriation clearances.
As per the Guidelines issued by the General Civil Aviation Authority of United Arab Emirates (UAE) – Safety Decision 2020-01 (Issue
1719) Q&A Guidance For Foreign Operators, Issue Date: 23 June 2020 the transportation of passengers (UAE Nationals and Non — UAE Nationals) to the United Arab Emirates on the repatriation flights are not allowed.
In view of the foregoing, all passengers including the Indian Nationals who are holding valid Residency Permit / Work Permit of United Arab Emirates and have procured approval of the UAE’s Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship-UAE (ICA) of the United Arab Emirates or approval from the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA) applicable to Dubai would need to have specific approval from the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates in New Delhi and their UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MOFAIC) to travel from India to United Arab Emirates (UAE) on these repatriation flights.
The guidance also states that all passengers need to comply with the quarantine and COVID-19 test requirements as per the preventive and the precautionary measures required by the appropriate health authorities, as notified from time to time.
However, as per The National, a UAE newspaper, reports that the UAE Ambassador to India, Mr Ahmed Al Banna, told them that
In India, there are indications to open international flights in the coming month and UAE airlines, particularly Etihad Airways, recently announced plans to increase scheduled flights to several destinations from next month to major cities in India, like Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and Kochi.
My sense is the statement has been made only after deliberations between the two governments and given the situation at the moment, a bigger effort would be made at both ends to bring their stranded citizens and workers back.
What do you make of the statements being made by UAE for the return of those stranded in India to the UAE?
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