Air India, Air India Express to operate repatriation flights to the UAE

Air India and Air India Express have confirmed that it will operate repatriation flights to the UAE to fetch stranded citizens from the country. The Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) said that the repatriation flights will commence from July 12 and will go on till July 26.

An agreement for the same has been signed between the civil aviation authorities of the two countries, putting an end to the long traumatic wait for hundreds of Indians, Khaleej Times has reported. Many are currently stranded in India since March when both the UAE and India closed their airspaces to curb the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus.

Chartered flights operated by UAE to repatriate Indians will also be allowed to carry ICA-approved UAE residents on their return leg from India to UAE, India’s civil aviation ministry has said. ICA stands for the Federal Authority of Identity and Citizenship in the UAE.

After nearly two months of suspension to combat the coronavirus outbreak, the government resumed scheduled domestic passenger flights on May 25. However, it had then allowed the airlines to operate at 33% capacity. Later, the MOCA increased the limits to 45%.

Indian authorities said the arrangement will be “reviewed as required” after the current operational period. The travel agreement was reached “with a view to assisting UAE resident nationals who are presently in India to return to the UAE”, and reflects the close strategic partnership between the governments of the two countries, Khaleej Times reported.

Since the launch of the Vande Bharat Mission in May, empty Air India Express flights have been flying into the UAE to repatriate distressed Indian citizens wanting to go home. More than 125,000 Indians have flown back home from UAE alone. In its fourth phase, the mission will operate 104 more flights from UAE.