Ras Al Khaimah International Airport (RAK Airport), a major hub connecting India with the United Arab Emirates (UAE), has revealed that it has helped secure the return of more than 53,000 Indian citizens to the homeland since the beginning of June.
An initiative from the Indian government, the repatriation programme has been facilitated by Indian Ambassador and the Consul General to the UAE. It has also been strongly supported by His Highness Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi, UAE Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah, who issued a directive to cover the full cost of transport to the airport for any Indian expatriate from across the UAE, not just those resident in Ras Al Khaimah.
Operating specially laid-on flights in conjunction with Indian carrier SpiceJet, RAK Airport’s concerted efforts to assist Indian nationals return home on completion of their employment contracts has propelled it to the fore of the UAE’s repatriation efforts.
“Our Emirate is a longstanding friend of the Indian government and its honorable people and we are always ready to help. With this in mind, Ras Al Khaimah International Airport has been playing an important role in the Indian Government’s initiative to repatriate its residents. SpiceJet and RAK Airport staff have shown great dedication in their work and for this I am truly grateful,” said His Highness Sheikh Saud.
“RAK Airport commenced special charter evacuation flights at the beginning of June and to date has flown back Indian workers, along with their families, in almost 300 flights operated by SpiceJet. These operations continue with a strong vision and commitment to help Indian nationals to reunite with their loved ones and families back home and have been facilitated by the tremendous support we have received from His Highness Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi, Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah, and Pavan Kapoor, Indian Ambassador to the UAE, whom I thank sincerely,” said Sanjay Khanna, CEO of Ras Al Khaimah International Airport.
“I would also like to express my utmost gratitude to everyone within the various authorities and government bodies in UAE and India who have made this programme possible. I also convey my special appreciation and thanks to Mr. Ajay Singh, CMD of SpiceJet Limited, for believing that the team at Ras Al Khaimah International Airport can carry out such a prestigious assignment of repatriating thousands of passengers back to their home given the stringent procedures and approval processes during these times and for the incredible support of the SpiceJet team in the process. We have worked like one single unit for this assignment and dealt with everything together to make this possible and easy for our passengers.
I also thank all our airport staff and associates who have worked – and continue to work – tirelessly to maintain the schedule and keep the operations running so smoothly and efficiently. To say that it is an honour to lead such a dedicated and committed team would be an understatement – I am immensely proud of them all,” he added.
The special charter flights operated by SpiceJet are returning up to 185 passengers a time to 21 destinations across India; Ahmedabad, Amritsar, Bangalore, Bhubaneswar, Calicut, Chandigarh, Chennai, Cochin, Gaya, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Kannur, Lucknow, Madurai, Mangalore, New Delhi, Tiruchirappalli, Trivandrum, Varanasi, Vijayawada and Visakhapatnam. A value airline, SpiceJet operates 630 daily flights to 64 destinations from its hubs at Delhi, Mumbai and Hyderabad and is India’s second largest airline by number of domestic passengers carried.
“SpiceJet is an integral part of the Indian community and is committed to serving its members irrespective of where they are located in the world. As soon as this pandemic struck, we worked with RAK Airport to lay on dedicated flights to help stranded workers return home. I would like to take this opportunity to thank His Highness Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi, Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah, for supporting us in our endeavour, which has served to further cement the already strong bonds that India enjoys with Ras Al Khaimah,” said Ajay Singh, CMD SpiceJet.
Less than an hour from Dubai and Sharjah, Ras Al Khaimah International Airport serves the Northern Emirates of Sharjah, Umm Al Quwain, Fujairah, Ajman and Ras Al Khaimah, with the northern parts of Dubai also in its catchment area. Having raised its profile with the Indian community in the UAE during the current coronavirus pandemic, the airport is anticipating an expansion to its operations post-Covid-19 and once air travel resumes to full capacity.
Among the many advantages that Ras Al Khaimah International Airport promotes over other UAE passenger airports are its cost savings for travellers and the fact that it has no slot restrictions, meaning that airlines are not obliged to have to accept slots made available to them, as is often the case at other hubs.