For over two months, Emirates has been flying near-empty flights from India due to travel restrictions. While the planes have been carrying valuable cargo to and from the UAE, as few as one passenger can be found on these flights. So when will Emirates return to India and restore its massive schedule? Let’s find out.
In late April, as India’s cases began surging to record levels, the UAE banned all arrivals from India. The only exemption was made for serving diplomats, UAE citizens and those holding the residency ‘golden visa.’ This forced Emirates to slash its schedules as inbound passenger traffic plummeted to near zero.
However, flights continued to operate for two main reasons: cargo and outbound passengers. In May, Emirates began carrying essential medical cargo such as oxygen and medicine to India for free, whenever available. Moreover, passenger traffic back to India began increasing in May as well, with the carrier ensuring connectivity and carrying at least a few dozen passengers per flight.
But when will the airline return to its former schedule and being carrying passengers from India once again? The answer to that is complicated. Here’s what we know.
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Residents can return?
On June 19th, Dubai authorities announced that UAE residents in India could return to the country starting the 23rd of the month. However, things did not go according to plan, and airlines were not given the clearance to carry out passengers. As of today, flights are still not bookable for outbound journeys with Emirates to Dubai.
Currently, the UAE has extended its travel on Indian travelers until 21st July, further complicating matters. However, according to a report, Emirates has said that it expects to restart flights from India on July 6th, when the travel ban was originally set to expire. For now, there is no certain date for when flights will restart and no clarity available.
In the most likely scenario, UAE residents can begin returning to the country starting from July 7th. The country has already laid out strict vaccination and three-test procedures to protect from imported cases. If passengers meet all these criteria, then travel might become possible. But nothing is for certain.
For Emirates, the Indian market is nothing short of critical. India to the US ranks as the carrier’s busiest city pair and three more from crack the top 10. Considering the millions of travelers passing through every year, the ban on Indian travelers will have a major impact on the UAE aviation market.
For now, there is little clarity on when Emirates will resume its regular schedule to India. If all goes well, traffic will likely pick up in late July and begin growing from August onwards. However, things can change at a moment’s notice, so constantly keep an eye on the new requirements.
When do you think Emirates will resume flights from India? Let us know in the comments.