Efforts on to restore normal flights to UAE, Indian ambassador says

India will also source supplies of medical oxygen from other countries including the UAE, says Pavan Kapoor

India is working with the UAE to ensure normal flights resume soon between the two countries, the Indian ambassador said on Sunday.

The UAE suspended flights from India starting from midnight on Saturday after a steep surge in Covid-19 cases in the south Asian country.

The decision included all national and foreign airlines.

The country is increasing the supply of medical oxygen using all possible sources within India, and from other friendly countries, including the UAE

Pavan Kapoor, India’s ambassador in the UAE

“We are in touch with the UAE authorities on a regular basis and will work with them to explore how best to restore normal air bubble operations at the earliest,” Pavan Kapoor, India’s ambassador to the UAE, told The National.

“The announcement by the General Civil Aviation Authority and the National Emergency and Crisis Management Authority of the UAE to restrict the entry of Indian nationals into the UAE is a temporary measure and will be reviewed after 10 days."

People in some exempted categories can still travel to the UAE from India.

The National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management confirmed that UAE citizens, diplomatic missions between the two countries, official delegations, business planes and golden residency holders are exempt.

There are no restrictions on travel to India from the UAE, Mr Kapoor said.

The diplomat urged UAE residents to follow Covid-19 safety rules and get vaccinated as 349,691 new cases were recorded in India on Saturday.

Pavan Kapoor, India’s ambassador in the UAE, says Indian officials are in touch with the UAE authorities to restore regular flights from the UAE to India. Courtesy: Indian Embassy, Abu Dhabi
Pavan Kapoor, India’s ambassador to the UAE, says Indian officials are in touch with the UAE authorities to restore regular flights from the UAE to India. Courtesy: Indian Embassy, Abu Dhabi

“The recent surge in cases in India has become a matter of concern for all Indians, including those residing in the UAE," Mr Kapoor said.

“These are difficult times and we can extend our support in this crucial fight against Covid-19 by following the prescribed health protocols, maintaining adequate social distancing and taking any available vaccine."

The ambassador called on residents to encourage their loved ones in India to comply with guidelines.

“The Government of India, in consultation with medical experts, medicine and vaccine manufacturers and the respective state governments is taking appropriate steps to ensure availability of more hospital and ICU beds, vital medicines and ventilators," he said.

"The country is increasing the supply of medical oxygen using all possible sources within India, and from other friendly countries, including the UAE.”

Thousands of Indians returned to the UAE this weekend before flights to the Emirates were suspended.

Many people paid more than Dh4,000 ($1,088) – six times the usual cost of a one-way fare.

Puthur Rahman, president of the Kerala Muslim Cultural Centre and Indian Social Club Fujairah, said he was trying to speak with Indian authorities in the UAE to understand how best to help countrymen back home.

Mr Rahman said he would co-ordinate help that is in line with local official guidelines.

The UAE-India airline corridor is one of the busiest in the world.

UK-based aviation data firm OAG calculated airlines flew almost 1.2 million seats between the two countries in March, making it the second-largest market in the world after Mexico-US.

Around 300 flights a week were operating between the UAE and India before the ban was announced.

Additional reporting by Haneen Dajani

Updated: April 26, 2021 03:23 PM

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