Last month, UAE banned most travellers from India, but kept a window open for a small set of people. Among these were local residents, diplomats and travellers coming on business jets that were carrying up to 19 passengers. Many made it to the emirates on ‘pooled flights’—where the jet was chartered but the seats were sold across the market. Now, the rules are tighter, and a charter flight to Dubai can now accommodate only nine passengers, the General Civil Aviation Authority has ruled.
Who can travel to the UAE?
“UAE citizens; UAE long-term residence visa holders (also named golden visa) holding a valid PCR test, diplomatic personnel holding a valid PCR test; any official delegations’ personnel holding a valid PCR test; and any person holding a valid PCR test and transported on a business aircraft (no more than eight per aircraft) are allowed to enter the UAE,” according to the Khaleej Times.
“Passengers who have been in India in the 14 days preceding their flight to UAE and are intending to arrive in the UAE via direct or indirect flight will not be allowed to enter UAE,” stated the GCAA. While the earlier baggage capacity was 40kg per person, it has now become 20kg.
What does it cost?
UAE’s clamp on flights from India started on 25 April and while it was meant to be in place until 14 May, the country has extended it indefinitely. Travel agents ran a few pooled flights till the UAE’s aviation regulator clarified that this clause cannot be used to ferry people en masse. These operations are now subject to approvals—agents have to submit passengers’ details and wait for clearance. A one-way ticket on a 10-seater aircraft from Kochi to Dubai costs approx Rs4,00,00.
What are the test requirements?
Passengers will need to undergo a 10-day quarantine and an RT-PCR test upon arrival, followed by two more PCR tests on the fourth day and eighth day of their quarantine period.
New stopover destinations
The UK, US and other major European countries are not taking people who have been in India over the last 10 to 14 days. So, some other travellers are hopping onto flights to countries open to India, laying over for two weeks and finally heading to their final destination. Bahrain, Uzbekistan and the Maldives have emerged to be some of the most reasonable options for layovers. A ticket and 14-day stay in Tashkent, the capital city of Uzbekistan, is about Rs1.35 lakh, according to The Times of India. Uzbekistan is also not insisting on a 14-day quarantine on arrival. Passengers are expected to take an RT-PCR test before they fly out.
While Maldives is on the UK’s red list, several Indians are laying over in the island nation before they head to the UAE or the US. Bahrain has three non-stop flights from Delhi and one from Mumbai and one-way tickets are priced at an upward of Rs50,000.