NEW DELHI 3 April 2020: India’s Civil Aviation Ministry yesterday offered cautious optimism that passenger air connections with the UAE may be resumed soon after India’s three-week lockdown prompted by the global Covid-19 outbreak ends on April 14.
“Any incoming flights to bring Indians back home will have to await the lifting of the lockdown,” Hardeep Singh Puri, the Minister for Civil Aviation, told reporters last evening.
“The lockdown is till April 15. And, we can start considering the resumption of flights on a case-by-case basis depending on where they are coming from after that,” Puri said.
India banned all scheduled international commercial passenger aircraft from landing in India effective March 22 without any timeline. Puri’s statement is the first indication that international air traffic will be resumed when the current lockdown ends, said Wam.
The cut off in civil aviation links between India and the outside world came into effect two days before the domestic lockdown and was prompted by concern that international passenger arrivals were fuelling the spread of Coronavirus. So there was no guarantee until this evening that an end to the lockdown will automatically lead to a resumption of international flights.
“Unless the lockdown is extended, the Ministry of Health will decide which all countries are safe enough to allow people to fly from into India starting April 15,” Civil Aviation Secretary P.S. Kharola, who was with the Minister, added.
18 evacuation flights
Meanwhile, Air India’s Chairman Rajiv Bansal said the airline will shortly operate 18 flights to evacuate foreign nationals stuck in India because of disruptions in international air traffic.
Several GCC citizens are also stuck in India and the evacuation flights by Air India and other Gulf airlines will see their return home in the next few days.
“These flights out of India will be carrying their citizens. On the way back to India, the aircraft will not have any cargo or any passenger,” Bansal said.
Some Gulf airlines are continuing to operate cargo flights to India and back during the lockdown.
Prime Minster Narendra Modi told Chief Ministers of all Indian states in a video conference that the ongoing lockdown will be ended in phases from March 14.
He was quoted as saying that the lockdown had helped limit Covid-19 infections. “But the situation remains far from satisfactory around the world and there could be a second wave of the pandemic.”
Emirates announces first passenger flights post suspension
DUBAI: Emirates has received approvals to carry passengers on certain flights. Effective Monday 6 April, initial flights will commence from Dubai to London Heathrow, Frankfurt, Paris, Brussels and Zurich, with 4 flights a week to London Heathrow, and 3 flights a week to the other cities.
Operating from Dubai International airport Terminal 2 until further notice, these flights will only carry outbound passengers from the UAE. Emirates will also carry belly-hold cargo in both directions, supporting trade and communities with the transport of essential goods.
HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman and Chief Executive, Emirates airline and Group said: “These initial passenger services, although limited to travellers who meet the entry requirements set by the destination countries, will be welcomed by our customers seeking to return home to their countries and families. We would like to thank the UAE government and all our partners for their support in ensuring the smooth operation of our flights.
“While we hope to resume full operations as soon as possible, we acknowledge the challenges faced by many cities in dealing with the Covid-19 outbreak. Our network can only be restored with the easing of travel restrictions, and we maintain close contact with all authorities for latest updates. We are working closely with the authorities to resume our services, keeping in mind the safety and wellbeing of our crew and customers at every step of the journey. We continuously review the situation and will announce any additional services as they become available.”
Emirates will operate its Boeing 777-300ER aircraft on these routes, offering seats in Business and Economy class. Flights can be booked by eligible passengers on www.emirates.com. Travel restrictions are in place at these destinations, and travellers are urged to check entry criteria before they fly.
For health and safety reasons, Emirates will operate a modified inflight service programme on these flights. Magazines and other print reading material will not be available, and while food and beverages will continue to be offered on board, packaging and presentation will be modified to reduce contact during meal service Emirates’ Lounge and Chauffeur Drive services will be temporarily unavailable during this period.
All Emirates aircraft will go through enhanced cleaning and disinfection processes in Dubai, after each journey.