UAE - A recently-introduced flight is proving to be among the most cost-effective ways for UAE visit visa holders to extend their stay in the country. Low-cost airline SalamAir operates a service from Fujairah to Muscat twice a week, which is fast becoming the go-to flight for those wanting to make the tourist visa change run, according to travel agents.
“This service offers a saving of roughly Dh200 when compared to taking a flight from elsewhere,” said Firoz Maliyakkal, founder and CEO of Thahira Tours and Travels. “People who have come hunting for a job as well as those who are staying in the UAE to spend time with their children or extended families are opting for the flights from Fujairah.”
Visit visa holders can extend their visa from inside the country, but only for a month. “Considering the cost and validity of the in-country extension, most visitors prefer to fly out of the country and come back on a fresh visa,” said Firoz.
Travel agents said a visa change package from Fujairah can cost anywhere between Dh1,050 and Dh1,250. “It depends on the flight charges,” said Raheesh Babu, chief operating officer of online travel agency Musafir.com.
The rush for visit visa extension has significantly increased this year, Firoz added. “For visitors, the amount they save by flying out of Fujairah is significant, especially if they are a couple or a small family.”
SalamAir had launched the Muscat-Fujairah service in July. The flights are operated on Mondays and Wednesdays.
Free shuttle service, other benefits
The Fujairah package includes complimentary pick-up and drop-off from Dubai and Sharjah. “On the day of the flight, a bus picks up passengers from Deira near the Union Metro Station in Dubai,” said Noushad Hassan from Alhind travels. “Travellers from Sharjah can board the bus from near the Saudi Mosque. On returning, these buses will drop the travellers back to these respective locations.”
This free shuttle service helps visitors save on the bus or taxi fare needed to travel to Fujairah.
According to Raheesh, the ease of flying out of the Fujairah airport is another contributing factor to the popularity of the package. Visitors usually take flights out of Dubai or Sharjah for the visa change run and face the usual rush at these airports. “The SalamAir service to Muscat is the first international flight to be launched from the Fujairah airport. So, the process of check-in and immigration is quite a breeze for travellers.”
Firoz said the airline offers free ticket amendment to the next day in case the fresh visit visa is not approved on the same day. This flight takes passengers to Dubai.
Visa change options
Those wanting to change their visa status can also choose to travel to Oman by bus. However, the seats are limited, which means they are almost always fully booked, according to Firoz.
Noushad Hassan said the Sharjah Airport Travel Agency (SATA) has packages that offer two daily flights — one each to Bahrain and Oman.
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