Emirates has extended its suspension of passenger flights from India until June 30. The UAE carrier has suspended all inbound flights from India since April 24th due to a surge in COVID-19 cases across the country. The airline had recently announced plans to lift the ban on June 14th before deciding to extend it.
India flight ban extended until June 30th
With COVID-19 still causing devastation across India, Emirates has decided to extend its ban on all inbound flights from India until June 30th. The flight ban has been in force since April 24th and was extended on May 5th by the UAE’s National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority (NCEMA).
Emirates announced last week it was going to lift the ban on June 14th before today’s extension. Middle Eastern rival Etihad Airways has also announced it will lift its own ban on June 14th and appears to be sticking by that date. The UAE government has yet to provide an update of its own, so it is unclear if Etihad will be able to welcome passengers from India by June 14th.
According to a statement on its official website,
“Emirates has suspended passenger flights from India effective April 24 2021 until June 30, 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.”
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More delays for expatriate workers
Many expatriates have been stuck in India since the ban was introduced in April, unable to return to their jobs and families in the UAE. There are believed to be over 2.5 million Indians living in the UAE, making up 27% of the country’s total population. The extension of the ban will cause further woes to those who have been unable to enter the country for months.
There are exceptions to the ban, however. According to Emirates,
“UAE Nationals, holders of UAE Golden Visas and members of diplomatic missions who comply with the revised published Covid‑19 protocols will be exempt for travel.”
There are other ways around the ban for those with the time and financial means. Some initially chartered private jets due to the lack of scheduled commercial services, before UAE authorities clamped down. Others have made lengthy and expensive trips to other countries to wait it out for 14 days before flying to the UAE.
Quoted in the Khaleej Times, Raheesh Babu, the general manager of travel agency Musafir.com, said,
“The most popular route at the moment is via Tashkent, Uzbekistan. People are spending 15 days in quarantine in the city and then returning to the UAE. It is not a suitable journey, but people are getting desperate. They might lose their jobs if they stay on longer.”
Cases are dropping in India
Despite a gradual decline in new cases since the beginning of May, India still sees over 150,000 new cases every day, down from 400,000 at the beginning of the month. Emirates has likely decided that cases are still far too high to allow an influx of travelers from India within two weeks.
Simple Flying reported last week on flight EK 501 from Mumbai to Dubai, operated by a 427-seater Boeing 777-300ER, which carried just one passenger due to the restrictions. On Sunday, another flight from Kochi to Dubai carried just two families onboard a 360-seater plane. The families onboard had UAE Golden Visas and were allowed to sit in any seats they wished.
Are you in India attempting to get back to the UAE? Let us know your situation in the comments.