Coronavirus: Dubai Airports sorts accommodation for stranded passengers

Ninety-one passengers remain stranded at Dubai International Airport

An Emirates aircraft is pictured grounded at Dubai international Airport in Dubai after Emirates suspended all passenger operations amid the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, on March 24, 2020 in Dubai. / AFP / KARIM SAHIB

Almost 100 travellers stranded in Dubai Airports will be booked into hotels until flights can be arranged to repatriate them.

Dozens of travellers were left stuck in Dubai International Airport last month during what should have been a transit stop.

In March, The National reported that 22 Indian citizens had been sleeping in the transit zone for days after their home country closed its borders to travellers in an attempt to limit the spread of coronavirus.

A group of passengers including Harjinder Singh, left, and Deepak Gupta, right, have been stranded at Dubai airport since March 18 due to coronavirus restrictions. Courtesy: Deepak Gupta

The UAE also went on to ground commercial flights, offering only special repatriation flights in specific circumstances.

Passengers awaiting repatriation flights or health and immigration formalities to be completed are being provided with rooms and meals in the hotels inside Dubai International Airport, or DXB, where heightened precautionary measures have been implemented.  On Friday, Dubai Airports said it "found solutions for a large number of stranded passengers" and now only 91 remain.

"Solutions are likely to be put in place for the remaining passengers over the next few days," Dubai Airports said.

More than 600 passengers were affected by the suspension of flights, either because their onward journeys were curtailed beyond DXB, or they were seeking to enter the UAE after restrictions were placed on entry.

Dubai Airports said significant efforts have been made to repatriate stranded travellers or to put them through the necessary health checks to allow them entry into the UAE, where they are placed under strict quarantine for 14 days.

During their stay at DXB, travellers have been provided food and drink, welfare and support to ensure that they are properly looked after.

“These are unprecedented circumstances and our primary focus is to ensure that those passengers who are stranded at DXB receive the necessary levels of care and attention,” said Paul Griffiths, chief executive of Dubai Airports.  “We have worked closely with the airlines and the authorities to either clear passengers through health checks and immigration formalities to enter the appropriate quarantine arrangements or helped to organise flights to repatriate passengers to their home or onward destinations.”

Repatriation flights leave DXB and Dubai World Central daily.