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The Ras Al Khaimah Airport. RAK Airport’s concerted efforts to assist Indian nationals to return home on completion of their employment contracts has propelled it to the fore of the UAE’s repatriation efforts. Image Credit: Gulf News Archives

Ras Al Khaimah: Ras Al Khaimah International Airport on Wednesday announced that it has helped secure the return home of more than 53,000 Indian citizens since the beginning of June.

This is in part thanks to His Highness Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi, UAE Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah, who issued a directive to cover the full cost of transport to the airport for any Indian expatriate from across the UAE who is looking to return home as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, the airport said in a press release.

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Operating special repatriation flights conducted in conjunction with the Indian government and Indian carrier SpiceJet, RAK Airport’s concerted efforts to assist Indian nationals to return home on completion of their employment contracts has propelled it to the fore of the UAE’s repatriation efforts, the airport stated.

“The UAE is sparing no effort to ensure the safety and well-being of all its people and Ras Al Khaimah is part of the country’s drive to be at the forefront of the global response to this pandemic,” Sheikh Saud was quoted as saying. “Our Emirate is a long-standing friend of the Indian government and its honourable people and we are always ready to help. With this in mind, Ras Al Khaimah International Airport has been playing an important role in the Indian Government’s initiative to repatriate its residents. SpiceJet and RAK Airport staff have shown great dedication in their work and for this I am truly grateful,” Sheikh Saud added in the statement.

SpcieJet operated almost 300 flights

Sanjay Khanna, CEO of Ras Al Khaimah International Airport, stated that RAK Airport commenced special charter evacuation flights at the beginning of June and to date has flown back Indians and their families in almost 300 flights operated by SpiceJet. “These operations continue with a strong vision and commitment to help Indian nationals to reunite with their loved ones and families back home. The tremendous support we have received from Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi, the Indian Ambassador and the Consul General, and our airline partner SpiceJet, has facilitated us to serve stranded Indians and enable then to travel home seamlessly and effortlessly.”

“I would like to express my sincere gratitude to multiple authorities and government bodies in UAE and India and all our airport staff and associates who have worked — and continue to work — tirelessly to enable these repatriation flights to take place,” he added.

The special charter flights operated by SpiceJet are returning up to 185 passengers at a time to 21 destinations across India; Ahmedabad, Amritsar, Bengaluru, Bhubaneswar, Calicut, Chandigarh, Chennai, Cochin, Gaya, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Kannur, Lucknow, Madurai, Mangalore, New Delhi, Tiruchirappalli, Trivandrum, Varanasi, Vijayawada and Visakhapatnam.

Ajay Singh, Chairman and Managing Director of SpiceJet, stated: “SpiceJet is an integral part of the Indian community and is committed to serving its members irrespective of where they are located in the world. As soon as this pandemic struck, we worked with RAK Airport to lay on dedicated flights to help stranded workers return home. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Sheikh Saud for supporting us in our endeavour, which has served to further cement the already strong bonds that India enjoys with Ras Al Khaimah.”

Having raised its profile with the Indian community during the current coronavirus pandemic, the airport stated that it is anticipating an expansion to its operations post-Covid-19 and once air travel resumes to full capacity.