Coronavirus Pandemic

UAE flight suspensions: Residents cancel, postpone Eid Al Fitr travel plans

SM Ayaz Zakir


Last updated on May 11, 2021 at 04.14 pm
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A large number of UAE expats are cancelling their Eid travel plans following suspension of flights to the Indian sub-continent.

The National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority announced the suspension of entry for travellers from Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal and Sri Lanka on national and foreign flights with effect from 11.59pm on Wednesday, May 12. It has already banned entry of travellers from India earlier.

Expats, from these countries, especially Pakistan and Bangladesh, usually rushed to their home countries to celebrate Eid with their families, but uncertainty over when flights will resume have put a spanner in their plans.

Mir Waseem Raja, Manager, International Travel Services said, “In earlier years, due to heavy rush during Eid, we would be busy helping customers chalk out their holiday plans. but this year, the scenario is the opposite. Residents are cancelling tickets as they also unclear about their return.”

Following a number of ticket cancellations, some flights to these destinations have also been cancelled.

“Airlines are trying to accommodate the passengers who are in dire need to travel for their personal engagements. Airlines are also being flexible as they are either providing refund or no charges are levied on postponed tickets,” said Shaikh Shibli, head of marketing, ITL World.

Seats on Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka routes sold out

Meanwhile, travel agents say demand to ‘visa on arrival countries’ has shot up following cancellation of flights to the sub-continent, with many making queries on such vacationing destinations.

“Travel has always been on demand. We have been getting many enquiries on travel to central and southeast European countries. People are ready to loosen their pockets to vacation in exotic destinations like Maldives and Seychelles,” Shilbi added.

Agents say many travel buffs have saved up on travel allowances offered by their companies, as they have not been able to travel due to the pandemic raging across the world, but with things easing out in some destinations and the UAE vaccination drive boosting their confidence, many of them are utilizing these allowances to take their families to these tourist hotspots.

“I have saved up on my travel allowance of the last two years. And since I am not sure of when I will be able to return if I fly to my hometown, I plan to take my family to Serbia, Pakistani expat Yaseen Shah said. “I have requested my company to issue the tickets.”

Shibli said: “Travel has become a necessity nowadays; people want to spend on travel. Due to travel restrictions in the last few months, there is a huge demand for international travel with many utilized travel allowances provided by their companies to travel to destinations that are open for tourism.”

Agents said that since many residents have already explored most local tourist attractions in the last couple of years due to restrictions in international travel, they are longing to see the world.

ayaz@khaleejtimes.com