** UPDATE 19/08/21 @ 11:06 UTC: IndiGo to resume flights from 01:30 AM IST on 20th August and statement added**
Indian low-cost carrier IndiGo has been given a one-week ban from flying to the UAE over failing to meet testing standards. Currently, all passengers flying to the UAE must take three tests, including a rapid test at the departure airport. Let’s find out more about the ban.
According to Business Standard, IndiGo has received a one-week ban from UAE authorities, which will run from August 17th to the 24th. The sanctions come after IndiGo carried passengers who did not complete a rapid test at the departure airport in India. The UAE has mandated the test as part of its strict entry criteria for residents from India.
The decision went into effect on 17th August, with no details on when the incident in question occurred. This meant all flights on IndiGo’s strong network of 11 cities to Dubai were canceled, leaving thousands stranded at the last minute. Passengers will be rebooked onto flights from the 24th of August onwards or could fly with another airline instead.
The ban will be a blow to IndiGo, which only ramped flights after August 5th after the travel ban was eased. Now, the carrier will have to cancel flights, costing thousands, and await a return to the once-bustling market.
In a statement to Simple Flying, the airline said,
“Due to operational issues, all IndiGo flights to UAE stand cancelled till August 24, 2021.We have informed all our passengers and will support them with refunds or accommodation in other flights once we resume operations.”
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The UAE suspended flights from India between April 24th and August 5th, nearly four months. At this time, only a tiny few were eligible to travel, leaving several flights will passenger loads as low as one passenger at times. However, as cases in India remain low for over a month, the UAE eased the ban in August.
Currently, UAE residents, students, educators, and select others can return to the country. However, conditions remain extremely strict. Passengers must bring a negative RT-PCR test taken in the last 48 hours with a QR code link for authenticity. At the airport, up to six hours before departure, passengers must take a rapid PCR test. Once in the UAE, another RT-PCR must be taken. Only once all three tests are negative can passengers enter the country.
Since IndiGo reportedly failed to follow the second test for some passengers, the UAE government is making it clear that punishments will follow for any airline. IndiGo’s ban will likely serve as a warning to all airlines to ensure that they must strictly follow all the rules, especially given the trouble some have found themselves in over the last year.
As India’s cases remain stable and vaccine rates pick up, the UAE could reopen tourism from India soon too. Before the second wave in the spring, India-UAE had emerged in the top 10 busiest routes in the world, highlighting the importance of the market for airlines. For now, carriers and passengers will be hoping restrictions will be dropped swiftly to revive the industry.
What do you think about the UAE’s one-week ban on IndiGo? Let us know in the comments!