As many as 102 passengers from the Cochin and Thiruvananthapuram airports who reached Muscat on two Air India Express flights on March 18 were denied entry to the country citing a ban imposed by the government on entry of all non-Omanis in the wake of COVID-19.
Arabs on the flights, that left Cochin at 8.25 a.m. and Thiruvananthapuram at 7.30 a.m. respectively, were allowed to complete the immigration and customs formalities and enter Oman.
Non-Omanis have been held up in the Muscat airport since 10.30 a.m. Airline sources said the pleas of the stranded passengers that the ban on entry to non-Omanis in the Sultanate would come into effect only at 12 noon local time went unheeded. The intervention of the airline staff also did not help.
The IX 543 flight from Thiruvananthapuram had 69 passengers and the IX 443 flight from Cochin had 63. They will now be able to enter Oman only after the ban is lifted.
The Air India Express diverted their aircraft in Abu Dhabi to Muscat to bring back the stranded passengers. “The 102 passengers from Muscat will reach the Cochin international airport at 8.10 a.m. on March 19,” airline sources said. From 12 noon Muscat time, the Omani authorities have suspended exit for Omani nationals and imposed quarantine for all arriving in the Sultanate, including Omani nationals. Transit passengers are allowed to travel through Oman airports. Nationals of Oman are allowed to enter with a national ID card if they used the card when they departed from Oman.
More than 1,000 passengers who will arrive by flights from Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah on March 19 will be screened at the Thiruvananthapuram international airport by a team of doctors.