Two more Indian repatriation flights leave Dubai

Two charter flights from Dubai to Chennai left on Friday evening with 350 passengers

Two more repatriation flights to India left Dubai on Friday evening carrying hundreds of tourists and expats home.

Air India Express IX 0612 departed at 8pm for Chennai with 179 passengers. The second flight IX 0540 also left for the southern Indian city at 9pm with 176 people on board.

The Indian Embassy in the UAE said more than 200,000 residents had requested flights home.

Priority is being given to pregnant women, children, older people or Indian nationals with health problems.

“Those travelling have to take a mandatory rapid antibody test at the airport. We also keep some passengers on standby. Should there be any cancellations we try to accommodate them on the flights,” said Neeraj Agrawal, consul for press in Dubai.

“Yesterday, one passenger could not fly as there were immigration issues. Passengers who have a fine to pay or have problems with their Emirates ID will not be allowed to board the plane.”

Shruti Ganesh Kumar, a resident of Abu Hail flew out of Dubai on the second flight this evening.

Ms Kumar, who is 16-weeks pregnant, boarded the Air India Express flight with her nine year old son.

"I've been asked to reach the airport by 3.30pm today as we have to be tested for the coronavirus at the airport," she told The National this morning.

“I got a booking in the first attempt. I just hope all goes well.”

Deepak Gupta, an Indian national, has been living inside the Dubai airport for the past 50 days.

He is a transit passenger, who was heading to India from Hungary via Dubai when flights were suspended.

Mr Gupta is due to fly to Delhi on a repatriation flight but is awaiting details from the Indian embassy.

“I am in Terminal 3. The problem is that the Indian government keeps changing the schedule on a daily basis so I have no clarity,” he said.

Mr Agrawal said that 19 transit passengers are stuck inside the airport.

“They are being booked depending on the schedule of the flights. One left for Kochi yesterday and there are six others who are booked on a flight to Delhi,” he said.

The two repatriation flights that took off from the UAE yesterday were the first of 10 services between the Emirates and India over the next week.

The first flight from Abu Dhabi to Kochi flew out 181 passengers, including four infants.

Five people were taken to an isolation ward in a government hospital after they were found to have symptoms of Covid-19 at the Kochi airport, tweeted India’s official news agency, ANI.

“We’ve received reports of these passengers. They have been isolated. We are waiting for further reports,” said Mr Agrawal.

The flight from Dubai to Kozhikode repatriated 177 Indian nationals and five infants.

All the passengers will stay in quarantine for the next 14 days.