On Saturday, hundreds of stranded foreigners returned to Abu Dhabi as Etihad Airways resumed services from certain Indian cities such as New Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai, Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram.
At Abu Dhabi International Airport, everyone waiting has a different story to tell, and the warm reunion scene is staged.
Sundaresan is an Abu Dhabi visa holder living in Dubai. He is so eager to see his family again that he has already booked tickets for six airlines.
“My wife Meenakashi, 10-year-old children Pranav and 9-year-old Nethra went home in March. I can’t wait to get them back. But the past two days have been like a suspenseful movie full of thrills and twists,” Sundaresan shared .
“I live in Discovery Garden and I naturally tried the airlines in Dubai. I booked tickets on SpiceJet, IndiGo, Air India Express, flydubai and Emirates. Many of them were cancelled. Flydubai and Emirates are not allowed to hold Abu Dhabi. People who are better than visas. So, at 8 o’clock this morning, I made a reservation in Etihad,” he said, showing a few tickets he had booked in the past 24 hours.
Relieved, Meenakashi recalled how she and her children endured the 9-hour journey from her hometown to Bangalore International Airport, only to discover that Dubai Airlines did not allow Abu Dhabi visa holders.
“I only know that my husband has booked tickets on almost all flights so that we can come back. You never know when any airline changes their policies. We are very happy to be back to Dubai via Abu Dhabi.”
After arriving at her home in Dubai, Meenakashi said that she did not need to be quarantined after taking an airport taxi from Abu Dhabi.
“We have already performed the PCR test at Abu Dhabi Airport and are now waiting for the results. If I test negative, we don’t need to be quarantined. But my husband wasted time from Dubai to Abu Dhabi and took the DPI test to enter the Emirate because we Had to force a taxi to leave Abu Dhabi from the airport.”
Etihad helped point out that passengers who landed in Abu Dhabi can only travel to another emirate by airport taxi, Etihad taxi driver or Etihad Express.
“If you take our bus, driver or airport taxi to Dubai immediately after completing the arrival test at Abu Dhabi Airport, you do not need to be quarantined,” said the Etihad Help Center.
For Mohammed Irfan, a resident of Abu Dhabi, this was a different experience. He was finally reunited with his family after four months.
“My wife Nayab, son Ayman, sister Ayesha, and her husband Burhan were first booked with Emirates. They conducted PCR tests and rapid tests at the airport, but they were refused because they are Abu Dhabi visa holders Check in. We didn’t know until late that Etihad Airways was resuming service. Anyway, I’m glad they finally returned here.”
In explaining the preventive measures, Nayab said: “After the PCR test at the airport, we are all going home now. Adults must wear a tracking device, and we will activate the device when we enter the home. This will help the authorities understand us. Position. We must now conduct two PCR tests.”
An unvaccinated Abu Dhabi resident returned successfully because he worked in a key department, which is an exempt category.
“I went to Bangalore from Mangalore. I tried to land in Dubai before but couldn’t get through and wasted money. However, the restoration of Etihad Airways service is for all Abu Dhabi visa holders and residents. A blessing,” an expat said.
All passengers interviewed by Khaleej Times stated that they can easily obtain approval from the Federal Identity and Citizenship Administration (ICA) to allow them to board a flight to Abu Dhabi. On Saturday, Etihad Airways operated flights from New Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai and Kochi.