Emirates has extended the suspension of flights to India until the end of June. The suspension first came into effect on 24th April due to a sudden surge in COVID-19 cases across the country.
India Flight ban extended
India is currently experiencing its worst wave of COVID-19 cases. Although cases have dropped in India from the peak of 4,00,000 cases a day to 1,50,000 cases a day, Emirates has likely decided that cases are far too high to allow an influx of travelers from India within two weeks.
Emirates has decided to extended its ban on all inbound flights from India until 30th June 2021. The ban has been in force since 24th April 2021 and was extended on 5th May 2021 by the UAE’s National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority (NCEMA).
Emirates’ website states:
Emirates has suspended passenger flights from India effective April 24 2021 until June 30, 2021. Furthermore, passengers who have transited through India in the last 14 days will not be accepted to travel from any other point to the UAE.
The Dubai-based airline has last week announced that it will be lifting the ban on 14th June before today’s extension. Rival carrier Etihad Airways has also announced that it will lift the ban on 14th June and it appears to be sticking to by that date. The UAE government has yet to provide an update of its own, so it is unclear if Etihad will be able to welcome passengers from India by 14th June.
More delays for expatriate workers
Many expatriates have been stuck in India since the ban was introduced. They have been unable to return to their jobs and families in the UAE. There are believed to be over 2.5 million Indians living in the UAE, making up 27% of the country’s total population. The decision to extend the ban only increases woes to those who have been unable to enter the country for months.
However, there are some exceptions to the ban. According to Emirates:
UAE Nationals, holders of UAE Golden Visas and members of diplomatic missions who comply with the revised published Covid‑19 protocols will be exempt for travel.
Just last week, Emirates operated flight EK501 from Mumbai to Dubai operated by a 427-seater Boeing B777-300ER which carried just 1 passenger due to the strict restrictions in place. On Sunday, another flight from Kochi to Dubai carried just two families onboard a 360-seater plane. The families onboard had UAE Golden Visas and were allowed to sit in any seats they wished.
Meanwhile, Emirates yesterday announced that it will resume flying to Venice and that it will increase frequency of flights to Milan as it looks to take advantage of the ‘COVID-tested flights’ policy of Italy.