Expats fly chartered flight via Armenia and Uzbekistan to reach Gulf destinations

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With several Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries barring the entry of travellers from India, non-resident Indians are choosing the transit route to several other nations including two former Soviet republics - Armenia and Uzbekistan- to reach their destinations.

The entry of travellers from Indian have been prohibited in United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudia Arabia, Oman and Kuwait. However, exemptions are given to passengers if they underwent quarantine for 14 days in a third country.

Earlier expatriates, desperate to get back to their jobs and business- related activity, used the transit routes like Nepal, Maldives and Sri Lanka to reach the GCC countries which are tightening rules now following the COVID-19 surge in India.

Now these three South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) countires have regulated foreigners. However, travel agencies are booking tickets in chartered flights to help NRIs make it to their Gulf-bound cities. A package works out between ₹1 lakh to ₹1.35 lakh per passenger.

Unlike Bahrain, expatriates have to go through rigid norms in Qatar. " Bahrain is a transit option for people from India to reach Damman . But to travel to cities such as Jeddah and Riyadh, a better choice is Armenia and Uzbekistan, " Yasir Mundodan, regional manager of Alhind Travels, Kozhikode.

As part of measures to stop the spread of COVID-19, Saudi Arabia has also brought in new rules from May 20. All unvaccinated visitors coming from countries not facing ban need to go into institutional quarantine.

Mr. Mundodan said that all unvaccinated travellers have to abide by institutional quarantine procedures for a period of 7 days and obtain a valid health insurance document to cover the risks of coronavirus. They must also undergo a PCR test for coronavirus on the first and seventh day of their arrival, he said.

Besides, the General Authority of Civil Aviation in Saudi Arabia had said that all unvaccinated travellers would have to bear expenses for their institutional quarantine that would be included in their air tariff.

Usually passengers are flown in chartered flight from Calicut International Airport via Mumbai or Delhi to Islam Karimov Tashkent International Airport in Uzbekistan and Zvartnots International Airport of Yerevan, the capital city of Armenia. “ Subsequently, they are flown to destination after they completed their 14-day quarantine stay, ” Mr. Mundodan said.

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Printable version | Jun 20, 2021 7:11:24 PM |

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