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Passengers line up at the King Fahd airport in Dammam to board a flight bounding to Manila. Image Credit: SPA

Cairo: Some 275 passengers left Saudi Arabia aboard a flight heading to the Philippine capital Mania under an online initiative launched to facilitate air travel for foreigners wishing to return home from the kingdom, the Saudi news agency SPA reported Wednesday.

The agency showed pictures of passengers standing at counters at the King Fahd International Airport in the eastern city of Dammam finalising travel procedures before boarding the flight late Tuesday.

Saudi authorities this month allowed all nationalities to register in the Awdah (return) initiative targeting foreign residents holding visas of exit and return, final exit, different types of visit and the tourist visas by applying via the electronic platform “Absher” to fly home following approval from their respective countries.

A total of 156,034 applicants from different nationalities have registered in “Awdah” since April 22 until Monday, May 18, SPA reported.

Access to the service is gained by logging onto the icon “Awdah” on the “Absher” platform and filling the following fields: the Iqama number; the birth date; the mobile number; the departure city; and the arrival airport.

Applicants should not necessarily have an “Absher” account, an exception aimed at facilitating foreign residents’ benefit from the service.

The initiative is jointly conducted among several Saudi government bodies including the Foreign Ministry, the Haj and Umrah Ministry, the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development, the National Information Centre, the General Authority of Civil Aviation and the national carrier Saudia as well as security agencies including the General Directorate of Expatriates’ Affairs at the Saudi Interior Ministry.

In March, Saudi Arabia suspended international flights to and from the country as part of precautionary measures to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.