Oberoi, who holds a golden visa that allows 10-year long residency in the UAE, was the sole passenger on the national carrier’s Dubai-bound three-hour flight that departed from Amritsar around 3.45 am on Wednesday, an official said.
During the flight, he snapped pictures with the crew members and paced up and down the aircraft multiple times without any hindrance.
Air India did not respond to PTI’s request for a statement on this matter.
This was the third time in the last five weeks when a flight to Dubai had just one passenger.
On May 19, a 40-year-old man named Bhavesh Javeri was the lone passenger on Emirates’ Mumbai-Dubai flight. Three days later, another man named Oswald Rodrigues was the lone passenger on Air India’s Mumbai-Dubai flight.
Flights on India-Dubai routes were one of the most lucrative ones for carriers in the pre-pandemic times due to high demand. However, since the onset of the pandemic, traffic on India-Dubai routes have taken a major hit.
India and its aviation sector had been especially reeling during April and May this year due to the pandemic’s second wave, which is receding currently.
India suspended its scheduled international flights on March 23, 2020, when the first wave struck the country. However, special international flights have been operating under Vande Bharat Mission since May 2020 and under air bubble pacts formed with around 27 countries since July 2020.
Flights between India and the UAE have also been operating under an air bubble arrangement. Under this, limited flights can be operated between the two countries with restrictions.