Under the directives of His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Mohamed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, and follow-up of HH Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammad bin Sultan Al Qasimi, Crown Prince and Deputy Ruler of Sharjah, the Department of Civil Aviation-Sharjah is keen to provide the necessary support and facilities to United Nations entities, including the World Food Programme, and other international organisations to carry out their humanitarian missions, especially during the "Covid-19" pandemic, which has caused lockdowns and closure of borders and airports in many countries. As a result, the staff of international organisations have faced serious challenges in travelling from one country to another.
Responding to the unprecedented crisis, the Department of Civil Aviation-Sharjah has been playing a vital role to facilitate the movement of staff and passengers of the United Nations, World Food Programme and other international organisations, including between Sharjah International Airport and Dubai International Airport through coordination and obtaining approvals from various entities to enable them to continue their international flights without any obstacles. Also the DCA and Sharjah International Airport, in cooperation with the World Food Programme and World Health Organization, provided all the necessary support for the handling of medical and humanitarian shipments.
WFP has operated five cargo flights up till now, carrying humanitarian aid from Sharjah to Djibouti. Also Air Arabia has so far operated eleven passenger flights, carrying WFP teams from Sharjah to Erbil, Baghdad, Beirut, Cairo, and Addis Ababa. more flights are approved to operate in the coming days.
Sheikh Khalid Bin Issam Al Qassimi, Chairman of Department of Civil Aviation-Sharjah, said: “The Department of Civil Aviation-Sharjah is pleased to provide all facilities to international organisations, including the World Food Programme, and supports their efforts and missions, especially during crises and emergencies. The world witnessed the spread of "Covid-19" pandemic, which requires from all of us to join hands and provide everything possible to ensure the smooth flow of humanitarian aid around the world, as well as to ease the movement of the passengers and crews of those entities, who can easily catch their flights to their final destinations through Sharjah International Airport and Dubai International Airport".
He extended his appreciation and thanks to all entities that contributed in facilitating the mission of passengers and staff of humanitarian organisations including the National Emergency Crisis and Disasters Management Authority, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Ministry of Interior, Sharjah Police, Sharjah Airport Authority, General Directorate of Residency And Foreigners Affairs-Sharjah, Advance Passenger Information Centre, Air Arabia, Centro Hotel and all those were involved to make this happen.
Capt. Samir Sajet, Head of World Food Programme’s Regional Aviation Safety Office, UAE, said: “I would like to congratulate all of us on the tireless and wonderful work we have accomplished, in setting up the Global Humanitarian passenger Air Service in the Middle East and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) to serve and work as the only humanitarian connecting flights to passenger working in humanitarian organisations to various countries in the region”.
The service carried with it various complications especially in coordination and approvals due to the travel restrictions imposed after the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic and the unusual request of entering the UAE without prior arranged entry or transit visa.
The operation includes departure or arrival of some passengers on Emirates flights from/to Dubai International Airport so that the traveller arrives or departs from Sharjah International Airport, and therefore prior arrangements and transportation must be arranged in advance for passengers who arrive at or depart from Dubai International Airport with the National Emergency Crisis and Disasters Management Authority (NCEMA), Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Interior, Sharjah and Dubai Police, Department of Civil Aviation-Sharjah, , Centro Hotel and many other entities for coordinating those movements.
Capt Samir Sajet thanked Sharjah’s leadership for the gesture Sheikh Khalid Bin Issam Al Qasimi and all those who worked tirelessly to successfully carry out this service. “We commend the wise and generous support that we got from the government of the United Arab Emirates and all the involved authorities for their unlimited understanding, support and facilitation vitally required for the success of this service,” he added.