Passengers leave Saudi Arabia as international flights resume

Taking full precautions, domestic flights resumed in Saudi Arabia at the end of May, with the General Authority of Civil Aviation opening 11 of the Kingdom’s 28 airports in a step toward restoring normality to everyday activities. (Supplied)
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Updated 16 September 2020

Passengers leave Saudi Arabia as international flights resume

  • Those arriving in KSA must quarantine in their homes for 3 days, even after presenting proof of a negative PCR test

JEDDAH: Passengers left Saudi Arabia on Tuesday morning as international flights resumed, with arrivals to the country facing a mandatory three-day quarantine.

International passenger flights have been allowed to operate with limited capacity for  expatriates who have applied through a Ministry of Interior initiative that allows people in the country legally or illegally, visitors and tourism visa holders to return home.

The end of the months-long restrictions was a balm to those departing from the Kingdom’s airports. International flights were grounded on March 15 in order to curb the spread of infection.

Ali Abdulhameed, a scholarship student at Delaware State University, returned to Saudi Arabia for spring break just a few days before the Kingdom suspended all international flights.

“It was surreal at first, especially since I didn’t know what would happen next,” he told Arab News. “Would I be able to go back to school or stay in Jeddah and finish my semester online? It was a very confusing time but it was good to have spent it between my family.”

Abdulhameed kept up with information on how to return to the US and applied twice through a government platform for permission to travel but failed to get it.

“They say the third time’s the charm,” he added. “After the news of international flights resuming I now have a flight back to Washington DC next week.”

On Sunday the Ministry of Interior announced a partial restart of international flights. The Kingdom will end all restrictions on air, land and sea transport after Jan. 1 next year, the ministry said, with a specific date announced in December.

“Thankfully, as the whole world succumbed to the circumstances due to COVID-19, a lot of companies and their representatives were cooperative,” 45-year-old Jeddah restaurateur Saleh Mohammed, who travels to his suppliers in Malaysia and Indonesia three times a year, told Arab News. “With the resumption of flights I can now arrange my affairs accordingly if and when I decide to travel, though I’m still uncomfortable especially not knowing what could happen to me abroad. I’d rather play it safe and stay home.” 

Those arriving in Saudi Arabia must quarantine in their homes for three days, even after presenting proof of a negative polymerase chain reaction test conducted no more than 48 hours prior to travel.

They must also register with the Ministry of Health’s Tetamman app to specify their location within eight hours of their arrival in order to ensure that nobody violates quarantine. Arrivals must also download the ministry’s Tawakalna app to monitor and facilitate the electronic issue of movement permits for those in quarantine.

Domestic flights resumed at the end of May, with the General Authority of Civil Aviation opening 11 of the Kingdom’s 28 airports in a step toward restoring normality to everyday activities.

All flights and means of travel between Saudi cities stopped on March 21.


Saudi Arabia details travel exemptions

These must provide proof of residency in the country to which they wish to travel. (SPA)
Updated 30 min 5 sec ago

Saudi Arabia details travel exemptions

  • In the cases of the death of a spouse, parent, or child abroad, the directorate requires the submission of a death certificate and proof of relationship

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s General Directorate of Passports on Saturday announced requirements for the issue of travel permits for groups exempt from coronavirus travel restrictions. Travel permits will be issued through the Absher e-services platform.
The first group exempt from travel restrictions includes government officials, civilians and members of the military assigned official missions.
This group can obtain travel permits if the official mission cannot be performed remotely and has a deadline that cannot be postponed, provided participation is kept to a minimum.
Documents required for the first group include an official letter from the entity’s senior official, in addition to the names of those who wish to travel and their mission, its location, duration and evidence that the previous conditions are met.
The second group includes citizens with humanitarian cases, especially family reunification, or the death of a spouse, parent or child abroad.

HIGHLIGHTS

• The first group exempt from travel restrictions includes government officials, civilians and members of the military assigned official missions.

• The second group includes citizens with humanitarian cases, especially family reunification, or the death of a spouse, parent or child abroad.

• The third group includes citizens living outside the Kingdom and their dependents.

Citizens who wish to be reunited with their families abroad must provide proof of relationship (spouse, parent, etc.) for the family member residing abroad, proof of residency in the country to which the other party wishes to travel, and proof of the children’s study location abroad if there are children of school age. The last should be certified by the Ministry of Education or one of the Kingdom’s representations in the destination country.
In the cases of the death of a spouse, parent, or child abroad, the directorate requires the submission of a death certificate and proof of relationship.
The third group includes citizens living outside the Kingdom and their dependents. These must provide proof of residency in the country to which they wish to travel (a document or an instrument that they own a property or have a valid lease contract prior to the issuance of these measures).
They must also submit a valid residence card (permanent or semi-permanent) in the country to which the travel is requested and proof that the applicant had spent at least six months in the destination country during the past three years.