Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, UAE has taken the lead to repatriate Indians stranded in the country through chartered flights.
Several companies and community groups have chartered repatriation flights with the UAE airlines, with some of them operating the first international flights to some destinations in India, Gulf news reported.
The special repatriation flights arranged by the Indian government under the Vande Bharat Mission are operated by Air India and Air India Express while some private airlines from India will soon be joining the mission.
However, the pace of the repatriation mission, dubbed to be the largest in the history, gathered more steam after the Indian government allowed private airlines in the UAE and India to operate charter flights on behalf of companies and community groups.
India’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on Monday night revealed that it granted permission to around 870 chartered flights, transporting around 200,000 passengers, both inbound and outbound.
“Several Airlines helped in the humanitarian mission of taking stranded people to their destinations,” DGCA said in a series of tweets.
The list of airlines and their operations tweeted by DGCA showed that dozens of flights were operated by four major UAE airlines that took part in the chartered operations.
A total of 68 flights have been operated by FlyDubai (38), Air Arabia (20), Emirates (five) and Etihad (five), according to the DGCA.
Some community groups in the UAE said they opted for UAE budget carriers for operating charter flights for repatriation as they could avail cheaper ticket fares with them.
Some Indian-owned travel agencies that have facilitated charter flights for community groups and companies, echoed the same and added that operating UAE carriers for charter service ensured more certainty about flight schedules amid the pandemic.