Kochi: Two flights departed for the United Arab Emirates early on Thursday after a new travel protocol eased COVID-19 restrictions and allowed passengers from India among six countries to arrive in the UAE.
UAE Airlines Air Arabia and Emirates operated one service each to the UAE from Cochin International Airport Limited (CIAL) early this morning.
Air Arabia flight G9-426 departed to Sharjah at 3:50 am with 69 passengers on board while Emirates operated EK 531 to Dubai with 99 passengers. The flight departed at 10.30 am.
CIAL Managing Director S Suhas IAS attributed the smooth and swift commencement of International departures to the operational efficiency of CIAL and other stakeholders like airlines, customs, immigration and ground handling agencies.
"CIAL has been doing intense follow up with the UAE aviation communities and we were able to start the Rapid PCR-testing centre at the departure terminal in a week succeeding to the announcement of Dubai Supreme Committee of Crisis and Disaster Management's which made it mandatory for the passengers from India. Following that Dubai authority issued a guideline on 3rd August accepting eligible passengers from India from August 5 and we facilitated a departure flight operation in the wee hours of the opening day itself," said Suhas.
As per the schedules, Air Arabia will be operating two regular daily flights (G9 421/422 SHJ-COK-SHJ 1530/1640 and G9 427/428 SHJ-COK-SHJ 1840/1920) in Sharjah Sector from August 7 while Emirates operates a daily flight (EK 530/531 DXB 0844/1030 in Dubai Sector.
CIAL has initiated a discussion with both UAE and Indian Carriers to schedule departure operations and it is expected that airlines like Fly Dubai, Etihad, Air India Express, Indigo and Spice Jet will begin UAE departure services soon.
As per the new travel guidelines issued by UAE authorities, Indians who own resident visas and are fully vaccinated in UAE and completed 14 days after the second dose will be permitted to UAE on acceptance of their registration with either GDRFA Dubai or ICA UAE. The passengers should produce a negative PCR test certificate with 48 hrs validity and also undergo a Rapid PCR test at the departure airport.UAE lifted the ban for transit travellers for six countries including India, travelling from and to UAE banned due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Besides India, the ban has been lifted for Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Nigeria and Uganda. In a tweet, UAE's National Emergency and Crisis Management Authority (NCEMA) said, "These categories include those with valid residency permits who have received full vaccination doses in the UAE and 14 days have passed since receiving the second dose and who have vaccination certificates approved by the official authorities in the country."