India and UAE have come to an agreement to allow airlines from both countries to operate charter flights. Passengers will be able to travel to and from the UAE now, meeting the high demand for the route. The agreement comes into effect from July 12th and will end on 26th July, giving travelers 15 days to get a flight.
The new agreement creates a corridor between India and the UAE, allowing passengers to travel in either direction. The agreement comes after UAE banned Air India from carrying passengers in the country, citing unfair competition since foreign carriers weren’t able to fly to India.
Starting from Sunday, UAE carriers, such as Emirates, Etihad, flyDubai, and possibly Air Arabia, will also be able to fly to India. They can now carry Indian nationals into the country, and carry outbound UAE residents. Indian airlines, including private carriers, will have the same privileges and the flights will likely be a part of the Vande Bharat Mission (VBM).
Stay informed: Sign up for our daily aviation news digest.
Etihad recently announced new flight resumption plans, which emphasized routes to India. While this likely referred to commercial routes, Etihad will take this opportunity to fly charter flights. Emirates will also operate flights according to sources, creating competition in the Indian market, after months of an Air India monopoly.
Considering the travel demand both to and from India, it only makes sense India’s first agreement is with the UAE. Over 200,000 Indians registered to fly back from the UAE since May, and that figure is likely higher when including those without ‘compelling reasons’. While hundreds of flights have been conducted under VBM, there are still thousands waiting for flights.
However, the demand is not one-way in this case. With the UAE now easing restrictions, including allowing foreign tourists, thousands of Indians wish to return to the country. Millions of Indians live and work in the UAE, many of whom came back due to COVID-19 fears. However, with work resuming in UAE and cases rising in India, many now want go back.
Airlines will publish schedules in the next few days, with timings and routes for the flights. Travel agents have already begun booking tickets, indicating that the schedules are already prepared. It would be wise to keep an eye for ticket bookings, which will start soon.
More agreements coming soon?
The new agreement with the UAE could point to India planning more such travel corridors, especially with high-demand countries. This may include other Middle East countries of Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait. Other countries, such as the US and UK, have also seen high demand for travel both to and from India.
UAE airlines are not the only ones to have gotten access to the high-demand Indian market, United too received permission to fly to India, albeit without carrying any passengers in. This could mean we see more foreign airlines receive permission to enter India soon.
For those wishing to travel to the UAE from India, must be work permit holders and will require permission from the UAE Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship (ICA), which requires online registration. Travelers will also need a negative COVID-19 test that is less than 4 days old. Those wishing to travel from to India from the UAE need to register with the Indian consulate in Dubai or Abu Dhabi, after which they may book tickets.
Will you be traveling out of India soon? Should the government open commercial flights? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.