Indian airlines say flight suspension from India to UAE to continue until July 6

Passengers were not permitted to travel to Dubai as planned on Wednesday

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Indian citizens trying to return to Dubai remained grounded on Wednesday, because airlines said they had not yet received approval from UAE authorities.

Air India said it did not have permission to sell tickets or allow passengers to board flights to Dubai.

Emirates said it was waiting for "travel protocols and relevant permits from the government authorities before resuming our flights from India to Dubai", in tweets to passengers.

Dubai authorities on Saturday said fully vaccinated Indians with UAE residency visas would be permitted to travel from June 23.

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We're waiting for the exact travel protocols and relevant permits from the government authorities before resuming our flights from India to Dubai. We hope to have more details soon

The UAE stopped passengers travelling from India on April 25 amid a surge in cases and the emergence of the Delta variant of Covid-19.

A handful of exceptions included diplomats, Emiratis and golden visa holders.

P P Singh, regional manager for Air India and Air India Express, said bookings for flights from India had not opened.

"We are waiting for formal instructions from the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority," he told The National.

"As of now, there is no change in the restrictions. There have been no new instructions to the airlines."

The airline repeated a previous advisory that flights were suspended until July 6.

“In view of travel restrictions announced by the UAE government, flights between India and UAE are suspended till 6th July. Please keep a watch on our Twitter handle and website for further updates,” the airline said on Twitter.

One Air India flight landed in Dubai from Amritsar, northern India, on Wednesday.

Flights to Dubai are allowed to carry passengers who are exempt from the travel restrictions, including diplomats and residents with golden visas.

Anil Punjabi, chairman of the Travel Agents Federation of India in the eastern region, said travel groups were flooded with calls asking for updates.

“They fulfil the criteria of having a double dose of vaccine but they are stranded," he said.

"After the news that Dubai is open to such passengers, people began calling up agents and the airlines because they are confused about why they cannot book flights.”

He said bookings were being made for flights from July 7 onwards.

Dubai officials have not yet commented on flights from India after an announcement on Saturday that travel restrictions were to ease for passengers from the country, as well as Nigeria and South Africa.

But on Monday, Emirates halted flights between Dubai and Nigeria and South Africa, and on Wednesday said flights would not resume until July 6.

Health officials have said that the Covishield vaccine, the India-produced version of the Oxford-AstraZeneca shot, would be accepted for travel to Dubai.

The Dubai Health Authority on Twitter said Covishield would be accepted because it was the same as the AstraZeneca shot.

Thousands of Indians have been in their home country for months and hope to return to the UAE to work and reunite with family.

Hundreds have returned after spending their two-week quarantine period in Armenia and the Maldives. Others booked business charter flights to return.

The UAE was among several countries to suspend inbound travel from India after a devastating second wave of Covid-19 killed hundreds of thousands of people.

On Wednesday, India declared a new variant of concern, known as the Delta Plus, and said about two dozen cases were detected in three states.

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