Etihad Airways on Friday affirmed it will run a limited number of special passenger flights to and from Abu Dhabi in the UAE to six Indian cities between July 12 and July 26 for eligible travellers.
"Eligible passengers include UAE nationals and residents as well as people with relevant UAE entry approvals from India. All passengers must have ICA approval from the government of Abu Dhabi before they travel and will not be permitted to check-in without the necessary approvals," the airline stated in its press release.
ICA stands for the UAE's Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship. A person with a valid residency permit of the UAE needs to take ICA approval before taking any flight to enter that country.
The airline said it will operate services to Abu Dhabi from Bengaluru, Chennai, Kochi, Delhi, Hyderabad and Mumbai. India suspended all scheduled international passenger flights on March 23 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
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.
The Civil Aviation Ministry announced on Twitter on Thursday, "As part of the close strategic partnership between the governments of India and the UAE, and to assist 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."
Charter flights operated by 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, the ministry said.
On India to UAE journeys, all these flights will carry only those passengers who are destined for the Gulf country, it noted.
The ministry also said, "Indian carriers operating repatriation flights to bring Indian citizens from UAE to India will be allowed to carry the ICA-approved UAE residents (returning to UAE from India) on the outward journey from India to UAE."