Muscat: More countries have come forward to repatriate their citizens in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic and help their people travel back home.
In the past few weeks, several flights took off from both Muscat International Airport and Salalah Airport carrying thousands of people who were on visit or express visa and got stuck due to the closure of international gateways. There were people who needed medical care, pregnant women, and those who had emergency reasons to return. The flights were mostly to Asian countries.
Nearly 15,000 Indians have made use of the repatriation flights announced by Indian government, as well as the charter flights organised by NGOs and private organisations.
“We have been transporting our citizens since May 8 when the Vande Bharat flight repatriation services began and nearly 10,000 people have made use of the services to various states of India,” an embassy source has said, adding that majority flights were bound to Kerala.
Pakistan operated three flights on June 18 carrying 530 passengers in all, according to the Embassy of Pakistan in Muscat.
“We operated three flights on June 18 to Islamabad, Karachi and Multan, thanks to the Oman authorities, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the ROP and the Oman Airports,” said KK Ahsan Wagan, Ambassador of Pakistan to the Sultanate, adding that more flights are currently in the pipeline in future to help more citizens reach home.
The Embassy of Philippines in the Sultanate arranged first flight on Saturday. More flights are likely in the coming days.
The German Embassy is planning to operate a special flight (MCT/FRA) on July 5to assist German, EU and other nationals who are stranded due to airport closure and want to go back home.
“For the operation to be viable, we must meet the some conditions without which the services wouldn’t be possible,” a source at the German Embassy has told the Observer.
The minimum requirement of passengers on the flight (MCT/FRA) would be 200,
Economy Class fare will be RO 380, Business Class fare will be RO 1100.
OL Ameer Ajwad, Sri Lankan Ambassador to the Sultanate said that the diplomatic mission has plans to operate a flight soon.
This will be followed by more flights if the need be, according to the mission.
Planning to have flights to repatriate the citizens home.
The diplomatic mission of Nepal operated two charter flights the second of which took off with 147 passengers onboard on June 18.
“The prime requisite for a passenger was to have PCR negative report and we successfully operated two flights,” Sarmila Puranjuli, Nepal Ambassador to the Sultanate said.
The First was on June 15, which had 166 passengers onboard.
Uzbekistan operated a charter flight on June 10 connecting Muscat and Doha which helped more than 100 citizens get back to their homes.
“Yes we had a charter flight from Muscat to Tashkent on June 10. More than 100 passengers from both Oman and Qatar were transported to Tashkent,” said Anver Abdul Kalil, Ambassador of Uzbekistan.
“Yes we are helping the Dutch citizens return back home to the Netherlands with stopovers in London or the likes. So we track which flights are announced from Oman Air”, Louma, representative of the Embassy of Netherlands told the Observer.
“Our community in Muscat is very small, so there are no direct repatriation flights to Vienna,” said a diplomatic representative.
“Our Nationals normally take the flights to Frankfurt or other European cities and from there they continue to Vienna.”
The Singapore Consulate in Muscat has so far not operated any charter flight but is expecting updates soon.
China carried out a charter flight carrying its citizens from Muscat to Guangzhou. The flight with 232 Chinese citizens onboard left Muscat on May 31.
“This is the only flight we operated as of now and we have no confirmation about another flight that we might operate in the future,” a senior diplomat said.
The United States
A US Embassy source has informed that it is not organising any repatriation flights.
The United Kingdom
“We have no government repatriation flights. But Oman Air has organised a number of special commercial flights to London. The next ones are on June 20 and 22. We are not involved in the booking process,” a UK source has confirmed.