Sunday, July 05, 2020

Stop hindering repatriation flights

Dubai: At a time like this perhaps there should be an across-the-board leeway in terms of transportation of people who are stranded in different places on the globe and those who wish to return to base because their jobs are gone and the money is dwindling.

In the light of that the cancellation of two flights to India from UAE because there was no clearance from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation seems excessively harsh. These repatriation charters have been going on for some time so there are precedents. India itself has announced Phase 4 of the Vande Bharat flights and that includes UAE as a pick-up destination.

The question of bilaterals and treaties and the six freedoms of the air can easily be frozen seeing that these are relief evacuation flights and not scheduled commercial operations. On compassionate grounds the rules of reciprocal and slots and landing rights are to be put aside and aviation per se has to rise above the competitive spirit.

These passengers already hurting financially have been placed in an even more unfortunate predicament and some may have burnt their bridges in terms of accommodation.

The DGCA seems to have been arbitrary in its decision since the organisers did the necessary paperwork. Also these are Indians coming home so if these flights are taking off regularly why not these two? Look at the inconvenience for so many people for no reason.
Repatriation flights are special charter flights organised by governments in order to bring citizens back to their country of origin. These flights are usually only available to citizens or permanent residents of the arrival country and are generally point-to-point flights - meaning passengers are responsible for any onward transportation upon arrival.

In April, when Covid-19 began to make its presence felt the ICAO, the UN agency for civil aviation, encouraged countries to ensure efficient authorisations for the entry, departure, and transit access of aircraft being operated to repatriate nationals and other eligible persons from foreign countries.

"Flights organised by states for the sole purpose of repatriating their nationals and other eligible persons from other states, with no embarkation or disembarkation of other passengers for 'remuneration or hire', can be designated as repatriation flights," noted the ICAO State Letter.
05/07/20 Bikram Vohra/Khalej Times
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