Apr 19, 2010

UAE to issue visas for stranded travellers

Dubai: People stranded at UAE airports due to the volcanic ash will be issued the 96 hours visa at the airport, in an effort to ease their travelling procedures.

Lieutenant General Shaikh Saif Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, has instructed concerned authorities to facilitate the visa process for people affected by the crisis.

Affected people can approach the passport control officer upon their arrival at the airport and can be issued visa according to the 96 hours visa rules.

Shaikh Saif’s humanitarian initiative comes in line with the UAE’s keenness to help affected people, ease their visa procedures and alleviate their ordeal.

Tim Clark, President of Emirates said: "About 30 of our aircraft are grounded which represents about a fifth of our fleet".

Emirates is losing about $10 million (about Dh37 million) in revenue a day, plus another $1 million (about Dh3.7 million) a day that it is paying to accommodate Emirates passengers, Clark said in a statement.

Flights from the UAE to Europe will resume only after airports are reopened. No schedule has yet been given.

Germany's Lufthansa and Air Berlin said that decisions to close airspace were not based on proper testing and that their aircraft showed no signs of damage after test flights without passengers.

"The flight ban, made just on the basis of computer calculations, is resulting in billion-high losses for the economy," Lufthansa spokesman Klaus Walter was quoted as saying.

By some estimates, between 35-40 per cent of the world's goods move by air.

Scientists have said the Icelandic eruptions could continue on and off for months, potentially meaning more delays and closures.

The International Air Transport Association has warned that the travel mayhem was costing airlines more than $200 million (about Dh735 million) a day.

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