The Dubai-based airline "Flydubai" will soon be operating two special flights to Srinagar in order to facilitate return of Kashmiris stranded in the UAE, officials said on Friday. This will be the first-ever international airliner to arrive at the Srinagar International Airport.
Senior officials in the J&K administration told Greater Kashmir that the government of India has granted permission to Flydubai for operating two special flights to Srinagar. However, officials said, the scheduled dates for the commercial chartered flights are yet to be finalised.
"Government of India has granted the permission for these direct Dubai-Srinagar chartered flights. This has been conveyed by the MEA to the airline concerned as well as Indian embassy in Dubai," M Raju, Secretary Planning and Development, J&K, who is also the nodal officer coordinating with Ministry of External Affairs told Greater Kashmir.
Raju said that efforts were being made to bring back all 682 registered stranded Kashmiris in Dubai and other emirates of the UAE.
"All the formalities from the side of GoI to allow the flights have been completed for the two chartered flights. We are hoping that all 682 stranded Kashmiris will be brought back from Dubai soon," Raju said.
After the recent lockdown imposed owning to covid19, over 1000 Kashmiris got stranded in Dubai, and many others in the rest of emirates of the UAE. However, a direct Dubai to Srinagar repatriation flight operated by Air India on May 22, under the "Vande Bharat Mission" phase 1 brought back more than 150 stranded Kashmiris.
As per officials, another Dubai to Srinagar direct flight by Air India under "Vande Bharat Mission" phase 2 is scheduled for June 11, with more than 150 passengers to be aboard.
Several persons stranded in Dubai told this newspaper about the "hardships" they have been facing due to the covid19 lockdown. They welcomed the announcement of chartered flights between Dubai and Srinagar and demanded more such flights be pressed into service.
"We are glad that the process of evacuation has started and now there are chartered flights from Dubai. But considering that there are many who keen to return home, there should more such flights," said a Kashmiri based in Dubai.
Already as part of ongoing "Vande Bharat Mission" phase 2 launched by the government of India, a Riyadh-Srinagar Air India direct flight arrived here on May 29 while a Dammam–Srinagar flight arrived on May 31. Another flight between Jeddah to Srinagar was on June 4. A special flight between Qatar-Srinagar operated on May 31 while the Muscat- Srinagar flight was on Tuesday, June 2 with capacity of more than 150 passengers.
A special Air India flight shall also bring stranded Kashmiris, mostly students from Krygyzstan on June 26, official said. Earlier in the month of May flights from Bangladesh had brought back hundreds of stranded Kashmiri students, who on their arrival, were put under administrative quarantine and were allowed to go home only after their test for Covid-19 came negative.