350 Filipinos from the UAE fly home amid COVID-19 flight restrictions

Filipino expats at the Dubai airport ahead of their repatriation on Wednesday Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Around 350 Filipinos were repatriated by the Philippine missions in the UAE on Wednesday, despite the continuing travel restrictions imposed by the Philippine government on passengers coming from seven countries, including the UAE, until June 30.

Philippine Consul-General Paul Raymund Cortes told Gulf News that repatriation flights are not affected by travel curbs imposed in view of the prevailing COVID-19 pandemic.

Those repatriated were provided with free tickets under the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act (Philippine Republic Act 11519). The repatriation flight was jointly coordinated by the Philippine Embassy in Abu Dhabi and the Philippine Consulate General in Dubai.

The returning Filipinos took Flight 8659, a Philippine Airlines (PAL) chartered flight organised by the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs. Included in the repatriation drive were those “who met with difficulties during the pandemic, patients with medical emergencies, children and pregnant women”.

Expecting mum

Ruby, who was seven months pregnant, said she was happy to be allowed on the special flight. “All commercial flights have been cancelled until June 30 and my doctor advised me not to travel beyond June 23 for safety reasons. I was able to beat the deadline,” she told Gulf News.

Continuing repatriation

Cortes said: “The Philippine missions in the UAE continually receive requests for repatriation and will work on those, in line with government efforts to fight the pandemic. Those who wish to avail of government assistance to return to the Philippines can email the consulate at atn@pcgdubai.ae. We will always assist our kababayans in the most efficient way possible,” he added.

Meanwhile, a PAL official in Dubai said a repatriation flight organised by a private company for stranded seafarers is scheduled to leave Dubai on June 23.