UAE bars Indian carriers from flying in passengers on “repatriation flights”; promises flights from Etihad

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.

atlantis

Atlantis The Palm, Dubai

Now, the UAE NOTAM reads as follows, and valid till June 30, 2020. Look out for the Yellow Markup.

A1197/20 NOTAMR A1190/20
Q) OMAE/QXXXX/IV/NBO/AE/000/999/2500N05430E200
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.

5. OVER-FLIGHTS.
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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Comments

  1. #boycottAirIndia Let us all NRIs boycott Air India now and forever, so that, Indian Aviation ministry learns a lessons.

    Restricting outbound flights from India when other countries air traffic is already open but India allowing only Air India to operate is a foul play which caused many NRIs to lose their jobs in other countries due to not able to report on time, kids living away from mothers or fathers, mental distress and much more.

    NRIs and residency visa holders of other countries were kept hostage in their own country India.

    There was no logic to keep outbound international flights banned in India when US, Europe,Canada, UAE etc are accepting incoming traffic for resident visa holders for a month now.

    #BoycottAirIndia

  2. I am leaving in dubai 5manth lockdown stay at home & loss of my job 2manth before restrictions but no have any response embassy so please open international flights

  3. Air India got greedy and thought they can get away doing shady business. It’s a shame on ministry of Transportation and Hardip Singh Puri who is in charge of the Aviation in India. I am glad United States dept of Transportation and all other countries are against the shady operation of Air India which is run by the government of India and Hardip Singh Puri.
    I am happy even UAE finally stood with USA and all European countries to stop Air India coming in to do crooked business in the name if repatriation and ripping off international passengers.
    It’s about time Mr Puri open up your Air ports for international travel I think you guys ripped off enough to get your Bankruptcy airlines back in Business.

  4. I guess India made a fool of all other countries by operating flights under the guise of “VANDE BHARAT FLIGHTS”
    They charged Rs82000/- —- economy for outbound flights to London(UK) and £820/- for London —- Mumbai.
    I do not know how much they charged for other destinations.
    Thank god other countries woke up to this fraudulent operation by Air-India under the full guidance of the government which owns the airline

  5. Its seems logical that india should respect other countries rights as well to fly their aircraft to India. After all, their airlines are suffering from the lockdown as well in terms of decreased revenue.

    India was expecting to guise their so called Vande Bharat mission into a revenue making machine (or loss making airline, I should say). This is wrong.
    I suspect AI has not made much money out of this, a couple of millions which is a drop in the ocean compared to what is required to salvage this loss making sarkari airline

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