Abu Dhabi: Soon after the United Arab Emirates (UAE) announced a new entry protocol for inbound passengers from India, South Africa, and Nigeria, Emirates airlines said it will resume flights from these countries in accordance with the protocol.
“Emirates welcomes the latest protocols and measures announced by Dubai’s Supreme Committee of Crisis and Disaster Management to allow the safe resumption of passenger travel from South Africa, Nigeria and India to Dubai and onwards,” said the airline’s spokesperson in a statement.
The new travel protocol, which will be effective from June 23, was announced as part of easing travel restrictions by Dubai’s Supreme Committee of Crisis and Disaster Management. Resident visa holders who have received both doses of COVID-19 vaccine approved by the UAE can enter the country from June 23, the committee had said.
Passengers must have received a negative test result for a PCR test taken within 48 hours before departure; UAE citizens are exempted.
“We will resume carrying passengers from South Africa, Nigeria and India in accordance with these protocols from 23rd June,” said Emirates.
“We thank the Supreme Committee for their continuous efforts in monitoring the development of the situation and announcing the appropriate guidelines and protocols to protect the community and safeguard the travel sector,” it added.
Amid the ongoing COVID-19 crisis in India, the UAE, a prominent international destination for Indian travelers, had imposed travel restrictions from April 24 and were periodically extended. The UAE has suspended entry to all travelers from India and those who have been in India at any time in the 14 days prior to their arrival in the UAE.
Several types of passengers are exempted from the ban, including Emiratis stranded in India, people with a UAE ‘golden visa’, and members of diplomatic missions who comply with the latest mandatory COVID-19 protocols.
Travelers who have taken Covishield vaccines can return
The Dubai health authority said on Sunday that the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine sold in India under the brand name Covishield is an approved vaccine from the United Arab Emirates.
The health authority has responded to inquiries from residents of the UAE on social media about whether travelers who have taken the Covishield vaccine given in India will be allowed to return according to the new travel protocols.
This clarification comes a day after Dubai’s supreme committee for crisis and disaster management announced updated travel rules for passengers arriving from India, South Africa and Nigeria.
While new travel protocols will take effect on June 23, travel agents and dozens of residents are eagerly awaiting clarification of the finer details of the travel protocols. Travel agents said residents are reluctant to book their airline tickets due to the lack of clarity on travel procedures.
Afi Ahmed, managing director of Smart Travels told Khaleej Times: “While there are a large number of enquiries from interested travellers, very few passengers are booking tickets from India. The main concerns are the vaccination status of accompanying children and whether residents need to take pre-travel GDRFA and ICA approvals.”
A day after Dubai announced it was relaxing travel protocols for the return of stranded UAE residents from selected countries, travel agents said they were inundated with calls by potential passengers seeking more clarity about their eligibility and PCR test rules.
Albert Fernando of Travelwings told Gulf News, “There are a lot of UAE residents who are abroad and are anxious to return.”
“They are looking for some clarity on the full rules.”
Frontline workers eager to return home in the UAE
Healthcare workers in the UAE are applauding the government’s decision to allow holders of suspended residency visas in India, who have received two doses of a UAE-approved vaccine, to travel to Dubai from June 23.
Several Indian healthcare professionals who are desperate to return to the Gulf have told the Khaleej Times they are eager to return, since the country announced the suspension of flights on April 24.
Bency Sobin, Registered Nurse at Medcare Hospital, Sharjah, told media reporter, “I came to Kerala for my annual holiday on April 10, I was going back in a month, when the flight suspension was announced. Also last year, I was stuck in India for three months. Because of the closure and I had to return on a charter flight. This year, once again, I got stranded with my two sons.”
“I miss my life in the UAE, my husband, my team members and patients. I want to go home as soon as possible because I have received my full vaccinations,” she said.
Travel agents see ticket prices soaring
As Dubai eased travel restrictions for travelers from India on Saturday, travel agents saw an increase in ticket prices for flights from India to Dubai.
Due to the high demand, managing partner of Pluto Travels Bharat Aidasani told media reports, the prices of airline tickets are too high at the moment. A round-trip ticket to Dubai from Mumbai and Delhi costs around AED 1,385, while the fare from Hyderabad to Dubai costs around AED 1,345
Previously the prices of air tickets were 600 dirhams and 800 dirhams for flights from Delhi and Mumbai to Dubai. He predicted that these high rates until the sixth of July and will decrease after that.