An Indian businessman based in the UAE had a once-in-a-lifetime experience when he got the chance to travel on an Air India flight as the only passenger, certainly feeling like a "Maharaja" (King).
SP Singh Oberoi, who holds a 10-year golden visa of UAE, flew from Amritsar in Punjab to Dubai on an Air India flight on Wednesday, according to a report in news agency ANI. He was the only passenger on the plane, apart from the flight crew.
The United Arab Emirates' "golden" visa system grants 10-year residency in the Gulf state to certain professionals and prominent global personalities.
Mr Oberoi is the managing trustee of Sarbat Da Bhala Trust, president of Asian Gatka Foundation, and founder and chairman of Apex Group Of Companies, according to his social media profiles.
"I felt like a maharaja (king) during my travel," he told ANI after the three-hour flight.
Flight operations were suspended between India and the UAE for the public since April 24 due to a spike in COVID-19 cases during the second coronavirus wave. However, UAE officials have allowed diplomats, golden visa holders, and Emiratis to travel from India amid the travel ban, a report said.
According to an ANI report, Mr Oberoi was earlier refused permission to take the flight but was later allowed after the intervention of aviation ministry officials. He said he had all relevant travel documents, including full vaccination proof authorised by the UAE.
Mr Oberoi thanked the UAE and Indian governments for the "memorable" journey.
"Sometimes in vital situations we get opportunities to cherish for life. Highly appreciate the Government of UAE and India for making it a memorable journey, thank you Air India for special services, you made it absolutely a wonderful journey," he said on Facebook.
Air India had earlier announced that normal flights will resume from today for the public. However, it tweeted earlier in the day: "Flights to Dubai are being operated with curtailed scheduled due to travel restrictions implemented by UAE govt. Before planning your travel please confirm your eligibility for entry into UAE."
(With ANI inputs)