Thursday, July 08, 2021

India's biggest airports fully geared for UAE flight services to return, with speedy PCR test results

Dubai: Two of India’s biggest airports - Mumbai and Hyderabad - are fully geared to deal with an expected flood of UAE-bound travellers when flight restrictions are lifted later this month.

Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Airport has PCR testing facilities that can give results in just 13 minutes. “We have been upgrading the facilities at our end for the convenience of the passengers,” said a spokesperson.

The lack of adequate PCR-testing facilities in Indian airports was cited as the reason by officials and industry insiders for an initial delay in the opening of flights from India to UAE. The Gulf country was targeting June 23 to let in UAE residents stuck in India, and one of the requirements for travel was a rapid PCR test four hours prior to departure.

“We also have a lab right inside the airport to help the passengers get the report at the earliest,” said the MIA spokesperson. “We already have the facilities at the departures as well as the arrivals and we have ample counters to meet requirements.”

The re-opening of flights will be a big source of relief for Mumbai airport, which counts Dubai as one of its busiest sectors. As far as resumption of flights is concerned, it is “hard to predict” right now given the alarming spread of the ‘Delta plus’ variant of the COVID-19 virus, said the spokesperson.

This has prompted Dubai and Abu Dhabi to push their India flights re-launch dates to July 15 and July 21, respectively. Dubai “has been a key market during the pandemic - it remains the top international destination for passengers travelling by CSMIA and that has always been the case,” said the spokesperson.

The constantly changing regulations have led to flight bookings being abruptly changed and tickets cancelled without much by way of intimation. However, Mumbai did not witness multitudes of passengers getting stranded at the airport.

“We haven't experienced that because the airlines are responsible, so maybe they have taken proper measures and informed passengers in advance so we didn't have any problem at the airport to this effect,” said the MIA spokesperson.

Hyderabad Airport is “fully equipped” to handle the new requirements for UAE entry, said an airport spokesperson. The airport has partnered with Mapmygenome, an ICMR (Indian Council of Medical Research) and NABL (National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories) certified lab for COVID-19 testing. The lab operates 24/7 for passengers and airport personnel.

08/07/21 John Benny/Gulf News

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