Thursday, June 25, 2020

Thousands of UAE-bound Indians stranded since March, seek Indian govt intervention

Mumbai: After being stranded in Chennai for over three months now, he was so determined to fly back to his family in UAE that he set aside geography and spent close to two lakhs for a journey that will have three carriers fly him from Chennai to Hyderabad to Mumbai to London and finally to Dubai. He left Chennai at 2 pm on June 24 and is expected to land in Dubai on June 26, 7 am, local time.

To see his mother, Satyan Iyer (name changed on request) had landed in Chennai on March 11 after a four hour, 30 minutes flight from Dubai. Then a certain virus and certain government policies conspired to make him probably one of the few passengers who would have flown from India to Dubai via UK. Iyer decided he couldn’t afford to stay back in India any longer when he heard his wife coughing during the recent phone calls she made from Dubai.

"She claimed it was normal sinusitis and cold, but it freaked me out," says Iyer. That’s when he decided to put his five-year UK to good use, pay Rs 1.60 lakh for the IndiGo, Air India and Emirates fare and reach Dubai, after hopping across three cities. "I have been waiting since May for the airspace to open up and airline flights to resume," he added.

But for thousands of UAE-bound Indians stranded in India since March, there are yet no viable options to fly back. Air India’s Vande Bharat Mission flights aren’t an option.

On Wednesday, Air India in a press statement quoted a June 23 UAE government guideline under which, "transportation of passengers (UAE National and non-UAE nationals) on the repatriation flights is not allowed." Air India said that passengers who hold a valid UAE residency permit or work permit will now need to get specific approval from UAE Embassy in Delhi and UAE ministry of foreign affairs and international cooperation apart from fulfilling an earlier criteria of getting two other approvals from two UAE authorities( ICA and GDRFA) if they had to board the Vande Bharat Mission flight to UAE.
25/06/20 Manju V/Times of India
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