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UAE-India flights are currently operating under the “air bubble” agreement between the two countries Image Credit: For illustrative purpose only

Dubai: UAE-India special flights operating under the 'air bubble' agreement have not been affected by India announcing an extension to restrictions on regular international flights, a top Indian diplomat confirmed.

Pavan Kapoor, India's Ambassador to the UAE, told Gulf News that all special COVID-19 flights announced under the air bubble agreement will be operating in December. “Our agreement is already operating and has been extended till December 31,” he said, denying any disruptions to UAE-India flights this month.

Pavan Kapoor

The Indian ambassador in the UAE has cleared the air about operation of special COVID-19 flights between India and UAE after several people voiced their concerns about possible disruptions.

The envoy cleared the air after several people voiced concerns about the flights' status. Indian missions and airlines have been receiving enquiries from passengers and travel agents after the country announced an extension to the ban on scheduled commercial services to and from India until December 31.

Gulf News also received requests from readers seeking clarification on the matter. One reader, who did not wish to be named, said he had booked tickets to India for his family of five for mid-December.

“We booked seats on a flight from Dubai to Mumbai for December 14 and return tickets for January 5. Even after going through financial nightmares over the pandemic in the last six months, we are flying just to reach out to parents, attend to property issues and family events. However, we came to know that India has again declared restrictions on international travel. Please clarify the situation,” he wrote.

No restrictions

The announcement by India’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) had clarified that the restriction shall not apply to international cargo operations and flights specifically approved by DGCA.

“However, scheduled international flights may be allowed on selected routes by the competent authority on a case-to-case basis,” it added. When asked if UAE-India flights are likely to be allowed as “scheduled flights”, considering the “almost normal flight operations” between the countries now, the ambassador clarified that they were still being operated as non-scheduled flights.

“We don’t expect any scheduled flights as of now,” he added.

Status reports

Currently, there is no need for passengers from UAE to India to register their details with the Indian Embassy in Abu Dhabi or the Indian Consulate in Dubai whether they fly on Indian or UAE carriers. However, UAE residents returning from India need to seek approval to fly from the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners’ Affairs [for Dubai visa holders] and the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship’s portal for UAE entry eligibility [for visa holders of other emirates except Sharjah].

According to figures released by Indian missions, passengers who travelled from the UAE to India since May 7 reached 633,000 as of October 31, with non-emergency travel picking up drastically. More than 220,000 passengers flew to the UAE from India between July 12 and October 31.