India bars UAE airlines from operating repatriation flights. The move follows the UAE government-imposed curb on Air India and other private airlines preventing them from carrying passengers to Dubai. A formal order, however, hasn't been issued yet.
But, UAE airlines, including Air Arabia, Emirates, Etihad and Flydubai, were verbally informed of the decision on Thursday. The move led to a couple of flight cancellations from Dubai on Friday.
India had banned scheduled international flights on March 22 and this ban continues till July 31.
On June 23rd, the US announced a ban on Air India flights that repatriated Indian citizens from the US. The US said that India was allegedly violating a bilateral agreement by denying one of the US' airlines permission to conduct repatriation charters from India, creating a competitive disadvantage.
Repatriation flights have become a bone of contention between India and foreign governments. The aviation dispute with the UAE is the latest example.
A government source said there was an issue of parity and Indian carriers were facing challenges in operating to the UAE. The source also added that efforts were underway to resolve the issue diplomatically.
UAE airlines have requested the Indian government to allow it to ferry remainder of the passengers from India. Ever since Air India announced that passengers who wanted to travel to Dubai via a Vande Bharat flight needed a specific approval from the UAE embassy, only a few passengers have managed to travel to Dubai on Air India Express flight.
As per government data, Indian private airlines carried 32,435 passengers from the UAE to India till July 2 while carriers from the UAE operated 356 flights to India, carrying 67,559 passengers.