Abu Dhabi/Dubai: The Indian Ambassador to the UAE Pavan Kapoor on Monday said the first two flights from the UAE to India on Thursday would take applicants from Kerala, who formed the majority of Indians who registered to fly home from here.
He was speaking to Gulf News after the Indian government announced plans to begin a phased repatriation of its citizens stranded abroad from May 7.
“The missions have prioritised the list of passengers and have given it to Air India. We would call and email each passenger to contact Air India to get their tickets issued. The first two flights on Thursday would be to Kerala, considering the high number of applicants from the state,” Kapoor said.
He said the priority list includes blue collar workers in distress, people with medical emergencies, including the elderly and pregnant women, and those who have lost jobs.
The envoy said that there would be flights almost on a daily basis to destinations mentioned by the applicants.
However, he said there is no clarity yet on repatriation on naval ships.
A statement posted on Indian Embassy’s twitter account said, one flight will operate from Abu Dhabi to Kochi and the other from Dubai Kozikhode on May 7. The passenger list will be decided by the Indian missions, it said, adding that details about flights to other destinations will be announced later. A total of 200,000 expats have registered so far.
As of Monday, more than 197,000 Indians wishing to return home have registered their details with the Indian missions in the UAE through the e-registration link http://cgidubai.gov.in/covid_register/
Preference to those stranded
Consul General of India in Dubai Vipul said stranded visit/tourist visa holders and those with cancelled visas would also be given preference in returning home. Nearly 20 Indians who were stranded at Dubai Airport would also be given priority.
The Consul General added that there could be a random selection of applicants later on if there are restrictions on the number of applicants in the following phases.
In a press release issued around 10pm on Monday, the Indian Consulate said one flight will operate from Abu Dhabi to Kochi and the other from Dubai to Kozhikode.
“The passenger lists for both these flights will be finalized by the Embassy of India, Abu Dhabi and the Consulate General of India, Dubai on the basis of registrations in the Embassy/Consulate database for this purpose launched a few days back,” it said.
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The missions are contacting the people on the passenger lists directly through email/telephone.
“The cost of the tickets and other conditions, for travel including quarantine requirements after reaching India, and health requirements to board the flight will be conveyed in due course and will have to be accepted by each passenger. Air tickets will only be issued to those on the passenger lists prepared by the Embassy/Consulate.”
The missions said they will also be conveying the details of further flights to different destinations in India in the coming days.
The process for finalisation of the passenger lists for other flights will remain the same.
The missions sought patience and cooperation from applicants “as the government of India undertakes the massive task of repatriation of Indian nationals.”
“Given that the Embassy/Consulate have received almost 200,000 registrations for travelling back, it will take time for all people to be accommodated on these flights. It is also requested that given the social distancing norms under Covid-19 visits to the Embassy/Consulate should be avoided,” the release added.
Ending weeks of uncertainty over the return of Indian citizens stranded in the UAE and elsewhere, the Indian Government on Monday announced the details of its mega plan for phased repatriation from May 7.
“The Government of India will be facilitating the return of Indian nationals stranded abroad on compelling grounds in a phased manner. The travel would be arranged by aircraft and naval ships. The Standard Operating Protocol (SOP) has been prepared in this regard,” the government announced in a press release.
“Non-scheduled commercial flights would be arranged for air travel. The travel would begin in a phased manner from May 7.”
However, the Indian Government clarified that those returning home would have to pay for their tickets.
“This facility would be made available on payment basis,” it said.
The passengers would be chosen from the list of distressed Indian citizens being prepared by the Indian missions abroad.
The government said medical screening of passengers would be done before taking a flight.
Though the registration with the Indian missions required the applicants to declare their COVID-19 status, the government’s announcement did not indicate that a COVID-19 test result would be mandatory for travel.
“Only asymptomatic passengers would be allowed to travel,” it said.
“During the journey, all these passengers would have to follow the protocols, such as the health protocols, issued by the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Civil Aviation.”
On reaching the destination, everyone would have to register on the Arogya Setu app, India’s mobile application for health surveillance.
Everyone would be medically screened after reaching their destination as well. It is understood that returnees would also have to pay for the quarantine facilities back home.
“After scrutiny, they would be quarantined for 14 days, either in a hospital or in an institutional quarantine on payment basis, by the state government concerned. COVID test would be done after 14 days and further action would be taken according to health protocols,” the government stated.
The Ministries of External Affairs and Civil Aviation are expected to share detailed information about the procedures on their websites soon.
State governments are being advised to make arrangements, including for testing, quarantine and onward movement of the returning Indians in their respective states, the Indian Government said.