During a recent Emirates flight from Mumbai to Dubai, the Gulf carrier had just one passenger onboard the 427 seat Boeing 777-300ER aircraft. Due to the COVID-19 situation and the development of a more contagious variant, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) government placed travel restrictions on people arriving from India.
In an article published today in The Times of India, it says that the Captain of flight EK 501 gave the single passenger on the flight details of the flight in person rather than announcing them over the passenger address (PA) system. The Times claims he said,
“Since you are the only one passenger onboard, this 777 is just for you!!”
The UAE has placed tight restrictions on travel
On April 25, 2021, the UAE introduced restrictions on people arriving in the country from India. On May 24, the UAE announced that it was extending the India ban until at least June 14, 2021.
In response to this, Dubai International Airport (DXB)-based Emirates published the following statement on its website:
“Emirates has suspended passenger flights from India effective April 24, 2021, until June 14, 2021. Furthermore, passengers who have transited through India in the last 14 days will not be accepted to travel from any other point to the UAE.”
People exempt from the India travel ban are UAE Nationals, holders of UAE Golden Visas, and members of diplomatic missions who comply with the revised published COVID‑19 travel protocols.
the UAE has banned private jets from India
To stop the fast-spreading Indian variant from getting a foothold in the UAE, the government has constantly tightened restrictions. Business jet owners are no longer allowed to sell seats on private charter flights from places it considers COVID-19 hotspots like India. Also, anyone who has been in India at any time during the previous 14 days is not allowed entry into the UAE.
Many enterprising Indians who live and work in the UAE tried to circumnavigate the rules by traveling to the UAE from other counties like Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh. Now following a ban on people arriving from counties that neighbor India, Indian expats are running out of options for getting home.
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The UAE is right to be worried
India is not the only country in the world that is having to deal with the B1.617 variant of the virus, with neighboring Nepal seeing a huge surge in cases. When the coronavirus started to put pressure on India’s healthcare system and oxygen supplies became threatened, many Nepalese migrant workers returned home.
Unfortunately, they brought the virus with them, which caused a rate of 200 cases a day in April to climb to more than 9,300 a day in mid-May, according to data published by John Hopkins University of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland. Right now, Nepal is scrambling to secure doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, and cases of the Indian variant continue to rise. India has also halted the export of COVID-19 vaccines as it prioritizes its domestic needs.
In more troubling news about the Indian variant, Australia’s Channel 9 News is reporting that many people testing positive for the virus in India have unusual viral symptoms, which include:
- Abdominal pain
- Hearing impairments
Some patients are also reporting a loss of appetite, joint pain, and delayed onset of fever.
While flying a huge plane like a Boeing 777-300ER makes absolutely no sense with just one passenger aboard. Earlier this month, Emirates announced it was opening a humanitarian airbridge with India to transport urgent medical supplies. We must imagine that it was fully laden with cargo before landing in Mumbai. Plus, the crew would have needed to get home also.
Please tell us what you think about the single passenger Mumbai to Dubai flights in the comments.