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Inbound flights from India will remain suspended until July 31, Etihad Airways confirmed. Earlier Emirates had made a similar announcement.

Etihad said on Twitter in reply to a customer query: “Following the latest UAE Government directives, passenger travel from India to the UAE and Etihad’s network has been suspended effective until 31 July 2021.”

There has been a travel ban on flights from India since April owing to the surge in COVID-19 cases in the country; the second wave had seen the spread of the highly transmissible ‘Delta’ variant virus.

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But UAE nationals, holders of UAE Golden Visas and members of diplomatic missions who comply with the updated COVID-19 protocols, are exempt from the ban.

Emirates has also suspended flights to and from South Africa and Nigeria till July 31, 2021, in line with government directives.

Although Emirates briefly announced that international flights to Dubai will begin for vaccinated residents on June 23, the decision was revised and the ban was put in place till July 21. The airlines will keep tickets open for passengers who have encountered a flight cancellation.

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However, Indian expats desperate to get back to their work in the UAE, have used other means to enter the country. They have taken flights to countries in the UAE green list – Uzbekistan, Serbia, Armenia, Ethiopia etc. – and spent the required 14-day quarantine in those countries before flying to the UAE.

Chauffeur service for economy passengers

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Etihad has now rolled out a private chauffeur service for economy passengers to select destinations. They will be collected from Abu Dhabi International Airport and taken directly to their home, hotel or preferred destination in the emirate of Dubai. Indian cities do not figure in the list of destinations as of now.

The offer has come as a welcome news for holiday makers during the six-day Eid al Adha holiday beginning on July 19.