India's national air carrier Air India and Air India Express confirmed on Thursday that they will be flying eligible UAE residents to the country on flights operated under the Vande Bharat Mission between 12 and 26 July.
The airline announced on Twitter that both Air India and Air India Express will be running these flights for a duration of 15 days and only "ICA-approved UAE residents (returning to UAE from India) on the outward journey will be allowed to fly".
ICA stands for the UAE's Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship. A passenger having a valid residency permit of the UAE needs to take ICA approval before taking any flight to enter that country.
The announcement came after the the Civil Aviation Ministry announced on the microblogging site: "As part of the close strategic partnership between the governments of India and the UAE, and with a view to assisting UAE resident nationals who are at present in India to return to the UAE, the civil aviation authorities of both countries have agreed to operationalise the following arrangement from 12 July 2020."
According to the Ministry of Civil Aviation, even UAE carriers will now be permitted to bring Indian citizens from the UAE to India and carry 'ICA-approved UAE residents' on their return leg.
Currently, an Indian carrier operating a repatriation flight from the United Arab Emirates is not allowed to carry any passenger from here to the Gulf country. Similarly, a UAE carrier cannot carry passengers on the first leg of the charter flight " from the UAE to India.
Many Indian nationals who have valid residence permits of the UAE and are currently in India have been complaining on social media for the last few weeks about the lack of flights between the two countries. India suspended all scheduled international passenger flights on 23 March due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Air India Express CEO K Shyam Sundar too confirmed the news on Twitter. He said:
Happy to announce Air India Express has opened its flights between 12th and 26th July from India to UAE for sale to Indians with UAE Resident Permits. Please check out our website for more details.
" K Shyam Sundar (@KShyamSundar11) July 9, 2020
On the India to UAE journey, all these flights will carry only those passengers who are destined for the Gulf country, the Civil Aviation Ministry noted.
This arrangement will be initially in place for a period of 15 days -- from 12 July to 26 July " and will be reviewed after that, it added.
With inputs from PTI