Muscat: Travel agents in Oman are currently taking registrations of expats who hold resident visas and wish to return to the country during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Based on demand for flights to Oman, lists of passengers will be submitted to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for authorisation, following which those who wish to fly back can book their tickets, either independently or through travel agents.
“A lot of expats in Oman used to live and work here, and they went overseas for either annual leave, study or for medical reasons, but after the COVID-19 pandemic struck, they could not come back and were stuck there,” said Faiyaz Khan, head of travel for Travel Point. “They have been in touch with us and earlier, we could not fly them back home, because only the repatriation of Omanis was allowed, but now, it is possible to bring back expats as well, if we receive permission."
“Depending on the demand for seats on planes, we will either put these people on a repatriation flight that is coming to Oman, because many of them come here empty, or hire a chartered flight for people,” he added. “Working professionals aside, we have had a lot of requests from parents of students to bring their children back, because their hostels are unable to accommodate them right now and they have no place to stay.”
Travel Point have so far organised about 15 chartered planes to fly people out of Oman, and more are expected in the coming weeks. Information on upcoming flights is expected to be shared on the company’s social media pages.
Another travel agent, Marmul Travel, has also begun taking down the names of people who wish to return. Passengers need to register by filling in a form which is available on the company’s social media platforms.
Passengers whose residence visas have expired can also apply to come back to Oman, but they have to first renew their documents online and then sign up to fly back, according to Suhail Khan, the founder of the Deccani Wing of the Indian Social Club, Muscat, which, like many other charitable organisations, has been helping foreign nationals in the country return home during these uncertain times.
“We have had many queries from people regarding the status of their visas at the time of booking the tickets,” he said. “In keeping with the regulations, we’ve asked them to first renew their visas online and then come back, otherwise they might not be able to return.
“We are one of many charitable organisations trying to help expat workers in Oman at the moment,” explained Khan. “If there is any assistance we can provide, we will always do so.”