In a chaotic flight to Dubai, a SpiceJet service had to declare a fuel emergency to land safely. The flight was carrying 31 Indian boxers who were set to participate in the Asian Boxing Championship later this week. However, confusion between the airline and authorities in Dubai over entry permissions meant the plane was forced to circle for over 40 minutes before fuel levels became a concern.
According to Business Standard, the incident occurred on SpiceJet flight SG142 from Delhi to Dubai on Saturday, 22nd May. The flight was a special one, only carrying 31 athletes bound for the Asian Boxing Championship, scheduled for 24th May to 1st June. This contingent included Olympic bronze-winning star boxer Mary Kom. However, the UAE’s ban on Indian travelers caused significant confusion.
While the aircraft departed from Delhi with no problems at 01:40 AM local time, issues surfaced when the crew contacted Dubai ATC. Upon requesting landing permission from airport authorities, the SpiceJet 737-800 was informed that it may not have permission to arrive. This resulted in the aircraft going into a holding pattern just outside UAE at 03:55 Dubai time.
While ATC worked out whether the SpiceJet flight could land, the aircraft remained stuck in for over 40 minutes. Eventually, with fuel levels starting to drop, the flight declared a fuel emergency and requested permission to land. This request was granted and the flight landed at 04:43 AM local time.
It seems that all this confusion seems to have been for naught since the boxers were cleared to enter Dubai upon landing. In a statement about the incident, a SpiceJet spokesperson said,
“An Indian boxing contingent travelled on a SpiceJet flight from Delhi today. The aircraft has reached Dubai safely and all passengers have cleared the immigration. The flight and passengers carried proper documentation…It was a regular passenger flight under the air bubble agreement and the same aircraft is bringing passengers to India from Dubai on its return leg.”
Since 25th April, the UAE has banned the entry of all passengers from India except UAE citizens, diplomatic passport bearers, and official delegation letter holders. As representatives of India, the boxers seem to have been covered by the last exemption to this rule. On the return leg, the aircraft carried passengers as usual since India has no new restrictions.
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Just last week, an entire SpiceJet crew was forced to remain inside an aircraft for 21 hours due to a lack of testing. The ever-changing travel rules and India’s second wave means that carriers have found themselves in tough spots recently. Scores of countries have banned travel from India in the last month as cases skyrocket and new variants are found. For now, be sure to check your travel eligibility on all flights.