India, UAE agree on extension of special flights under air bubble arrangement

Over 500,000 Indians have registered for repatriation to India, with 275,000 of those flying home

The special India-UAE flights under the air bubble arrangement are allowed till the end of this month.

India and UAE have agreed to extend the special flight services between the two countries under an ‘air bubble’ arrangement until the end of this month, which allows carriers of both countries to operate repatriation flights.

The two countries earlier agreed on an initial 2-week period for the arrangement, which ended on July 26.

“The official permission has now been granted by both the countries for extension of the earlier special flights scheme till August-end, and we have already started taking bookings from passengers from India who are eligible to fly to UAE under government regulations there,” a senior Air India Express official told Arabian Business.

Air India Express, which has scheduled a total of 118 flights to UAE for the phase 5 of repatriation flights announced by India during August 1-15, can now carry passengers from various Indian cities on these flights.

UAE carriers, and some of the Indian airlines which operate repatriation flights to India under charter services from the UAE, can also now resume taking bookings from passengers from India on their return trips, the Air India Express official said.

Advisory on Repatriation flights #VandeBharatMission— India in Dubai (@cgidubai) August 2, 2020

An advisory issued by the Consulate General of India (CGI), Dubai, on Sunday said about 90 flights have been scheduled to operate from UAE to India between now and August, and that more flights will be announced later for the remaining period of this month.

Only those passengers from India who have valid residency and work permits can book flights to UAE currently.

In addition, bookings are not allowed on these flights for onward journey from UAE to other countries.

UAE carriers such as Emirates, Flydubai and Etihad Airways are operating repatriation flights from the UAE to India regularly under charter service.

Some of the Indian carriers, including SpiceJet, also operate chartered repatriation flights from Ras Al-Khaimah to various Indian cities, mainly in the west and north.

The Air India Express official said flights from India to the UAE are currently operating with low capacities – 30-35 percent – because of the travel restrictions enforced by the UAE government.

“As against this, flights from UAE to India are operating almost with full capacity,” the Air India Express official said.

According to the Dubai CGI’s note, over 500,000 Indians have registered for repatriation to India, with 275,000 of those flying home. 

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