Wednesday, June 24, 2020

AI Express seeks UAE nod to fly people on India-Dubai sector of Vande Bharat flights

New Delhi: Air India Express has sought clearance from United Arab Emirates to fly Indians working in Dubai from India on the India-Dubai leg of Vande Bharat Mission (VBM) flights. Dubai government has allowed foreign nationals holding residency visas issued in Dubai to return to the emirate starting Monday (June 22), and will open its doors to tourists from July 7.

A large number of Indians working in UAE are currently in India and are keen to retun to their jobs and homes in Dubai. An Air India Express spokesman said the airline has “not yet received approval from UAE authorities to carry passengers on our VBM flights, although we have requested for it.”

While VBM was launched by Air India and AI Express, in recent days private Indian airlines — IndiGo, SpiceJet, Vistara and GoAir — have also started flights under this. These airlines will deploy their single aisle Airbus A320s and Boeing 737s to places like the Gulf and Southeast Asia.

“Once we get government nod to fly out people from India to UAE on our VBM flights, we will begin doing so,” said a private airline official.

Social media is abuzz with fervent pleas from Indians who’re currently in their home countermand are desperate to return to their jobs, homes and families in the UAE.

AI has been flying people on its VBM flights out of India to countries that are allowing certain categories of non-citizens to return like the US, Canada, UK and Singapore. “Our aircraft are going from India and we are taking people from here if the destination country allows them to return. It is not us who are stopping people from flying out. The destination country has to say ‘ok, you can bring these categories of visa holders’ and then they can by tickets and board our flights,” said an AI official.

Dubai, the biggest magnet for Indian expats, will conditionally reopen its doors for tourists from July 7 and has allowed foreign nationals holding residency visas issued in Dubai to return to the emirate from Monday (June 22). It had announced new air travel protocols for Dubai citizens, residents and visitors on Sunday.
23/06/20 Saurabh Sinha/Times of India
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