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Image Credit: Gulf News

Dubai: Passengers flying from India and Pakistan to UAE now only need to take a PCR test 48 hours prior to departure, according to UAE airlines.

Emirates airline on Tuesday updated Dubai entry requirements for passengers from India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and several other countries.

The carrier said that passengers from these countries who have Dubai as their final destination need to only present a negative COVID‑19 PCR test taken within 48 hours prior to departure. Passengers were previously required to also take a rapid PCR test at airports six hours prior to their departure.

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"The certificate must be a Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT PCR) test issued by trusted and certified laboratories with a QR code linked to the original report for verification purposes," said Emirates.

Transit passengers must follow the testing requirement of their final destination, said Emirates.

The following passengers are exempted from PCR tests:

• UAE nationals, 1st-degree relative(s) and their domestic/house workers/helpers who will be required to undergo COVID‑19 PCR test on arrival in Dubai.

• Children under the age of 12 and passengers who have a moderate or severe disability.

Etihad

Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways’ website showed that passengers flying from major Indian and Pakistani cities are now only required to take a PCR test a maximum of 48 hours before their first flight departure time at a government accredited facility. Children under 12 and people with severe and moderate disabilities are exempt from PCR testing to fly to Abu Dhabi.

Huge relief

The decision comes as a huge relief for Indian tourists and expats who have been shelling out large sums of money for PCR tests on top of expensive flight tickets. The issue really got attention once India tightened travel restrictions due tospread of the Omicron variant. Passengers from ‘at-risk’ countries - which included UK, Brazil, South African, Botswana, China and Israel - were required to undergo an RT-PCR test on arrival in India, and had to wait for the test results in the airport.

Over the last few weeks, countries have been opening borders and dropping travel restrictions as Omicron appears to be less severe than previous variants. “As the world reopens its borders, Dubai too has eliminated the requirement for pre-departure rapid PCR tests at departing airports from today for Indian nationals,” said an aviation analyst on Twitter.

Despite travel restrictions and limited flights, India retained its position as the top destination country for DXB by passenger volume in 2021, with traffic totalling 4.2 million, followed by Pakistan with 1.8 million, Saudi Arabia with 1.5 million, and UK with 1.2 million passengers.

Other destination countries of note included the US (1.1m passengers), Egypt (1m) and Turkey (945,000 passengers). DXB’s top destination cities during 2021 were Istanbul with 916,000 passengers, Cairo (905,000), London (814,000) and New Delhi (791,000 passengers).

“With the eagerly anticipated reopening of key markets such as Australasia and the further easing of travel regulations around the world, the outlook for 2022 is very promising and we are in an excellent position to continue to lead the world’s air travel sector on the road to recovery,” said Paul Griffiths, Dubai Airports’ CEO in a statement on Tuesday.