The flight took off from Cochin after attaining “special approval”.
Over 140 passengers flew on a charter flight from India to the UAE on Monday morning, a top Indian official has told Khaleej Times.
ACK Nair, director of the Cochin International Airport (Cial), told Khaleej Times that the flight took off from Cochin after attaining “special approval” from the UAE authorities through its “air bubble agreement” that allows to transport passengers between the two countries.
Confirming the news to Khaleej Times over the phone, Nair said: “ All the passengers who travelled from Cohin were Indian expats with valid UAE residence visas, and had taken their Covid19 PCR tests within 48 hours from the date of departure. The passengers then also underwent a mandatory rapid PCR test at the Cochin International Airport four hours before they boarded the flight to Abu Dhabi.”
Nair reiterated that it was not a scheduled flight but a charted one operated by Etihad.
Khaleej Times has reached out to Etihad for a confirmation.
“The UAE authorities are allowing Indian expatriates with valid residence visa and those who have received both the doses of UAE-approved Covid vaccines (to fly back).
“There are a total of four mandatory rules that passengers had to comply with in order to board the flight. These were – only expats with valid UAE residence visa; residents who have received two doses of UAE-approved vaccines; residents were required to present a negative Covid-19 test result taken within 48 hours before departure; and all passengers had to take a rapid PCR test four hours prior to flight departure to the UAE,” explained Nair.
The flight took off from CIAL at 8.15am on Monday, he said.
Suspension of inbound passengers from India was first announced by the National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority (NCEMA) on April 24 for an extendable period of 10 days. Following this, authorities said on May 5 that the suspension of entry of travellers from India would be indefinite.
On June 19, the Dubai Supreme Committee of Crisis and Disaster Management announced fresh protocols, permitting the safe resumption of travel from India to Dubai on June 23. However, flight operations are yet to resume.
Furthermore, Dubai’s flagship carrier Emirates Airlines informed its passengers on social media that flights from India to Dubai remain suspended at present.