Emirates Airlines and Etihad Airways have suspended flights to different countries in accordance with government’s decision.
This refers to the report ‘Emirates and Etihad suspends flights to Saudi Arabia’ (05 July).
The suspension of flights between the GCC and several Asian countries have put a large number of expatriates working in the Middle East in limbo. Many are worried about losing their job, uncertainty over education and repayment of loans taken for business reasons are a few of the issues adding tremendous pressure on a large section of the expatriate community.
In the present circumstances of delay in travel back to their workplace, a humanitarian gesture could be considered by lifting the ban allowing resident visa holders to travel back provided they have taken two doses of approved COVID-19 vaccine. This can certainly restrict the spread of the virus.
As the GCC countries are home to millions of expatriate workers, the majority of them hail from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and the Philippines, their safe return has become the need of the hour for reason I have mentioned above. Those vaccinated can again be put on strict quarantine as per local health regulations, if needed. Meanwhile, resumption of flights between the Gulf states and various other countries would be helpful for the already struggling airlines and travel industries as they have been badly hit since the start of the pandemic, more so since early last year.
We hope authorities dealing with COVID-19 control measures would consider implementing a new set of guidelines for the return of resident visa holders to their respective Gulf states.