India bars UAE airlines from operating flights; efforts on to resolve issue

Topics Coronavirus | UAE | airlines

Air India began repatriation flights under Vande Bharat Mission from May 6 and domestic and West Asian airlines had been allowed to operate charter flights from May 25.
India is not allowing UAE airlines to operate additional repatriation flights. The move comes following the UAE government’s curbs on carrying passengers to Dubai on Air India and private airlines.

A formal order has not been issued but UAE airlines, including Air Arabia, Emirates, Etihad and Flydubai, were verbally informed of the decision on Thursday. The move led to a couple of flight cancellations from Dubai on Friday, it is learnt.

India banned scheduled international flights on March 22 and these remain suspended till July 31. Air India began repatriation flights under Vande Bharat Mission from May 6 and domestic and West Asian airlines had been allowed to operate charter flights from May 25.

It is these repatriation flights, which have become a bone of contention between India and foreign governments. The aviation dispute with the UAE is the latest example.

A civil aviation ministry spokesperson did not immediately comment on the issue. A government source said there was an issue of parity and Indian carriers were facing challenges in operating to the UAE. Efforts are also under way to resolve the issue through diplomatic channels, a source said.

Last week, Air India said passengers intending to travel to Dubai on a Vande Bharat flight would require specific approval from the UAE embassy. Since then, only a few passengers have managed to travel to Dubai on Air India Express flight in view of the restrictions. The Dubai government has opened doors to permanent residents and will welcome tourists from July 7.

Requests have also been made by UAE airlines to allow transport of passengers from India and that is pending. Currently, airlines are operating ferry flights to the UAE.

According to government data, Indian private airlines carried 32,435 passengers from the UAE to India till July 2 while carriers from the UAE operated 356 flights to India, carrying 67,559 passengers.

“The dispute should be resolved as thousands of Indians are waiting eagerly to return to India. Similarly, Indians are keen to return to Dubai again,” said an activist working with the non-resident Indian (NRI) community in Dubai.

Emirates declined comment. A Flydubai spokesperson said that its flight from Dubai to Madurai on Friday was cancelled and it is working with the relevant stakeholders.  Air Arabia and Etihad did not immediately respond to queries.



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