Heathrow delays cause even UK visa holders to experience significant delays.
Dubai: The UAE’s heatwave is not the only reason for travel disruptions. Trying to obtain a Schengen visa can take up to three months. This forces holidaymakers to seek other destinations.
“We used to see clear peaks or troughs in summer and holiday seasons. But now, people will travel almost all year,” Moniz Billimoria said. VFS Global, the visa processing company, is the Deputy Regional Head for UAE. There could be countries where visa applications are not available until September, and you might get an appointment for a visa in September.
It’s true, that obtaining a Schengen visa for the UAE can take up to three weeks depending on where you live.
Booking in advance can help travelers avoid any last-minute problems. Billimoria said that the Schengen countries allow for applications up to six months ahead. This is why it’s a good idea to book appointments in advance even if you are in peak season.
UK situation adds to delays
UK is a key market for UAE airlines and it takes longer to process visa applications. The UK was the preferred option for UAE travelers who were frustrated by delays in processing Schengen visa applications. Billimoria stated that the UK has a 15-day processing time, but they now take six weeks. “We have been working tirelessly to return to the three-week standard timeline.”
Passengers flying to the UK must also make arrangements for visa appointments. Many of the country’s largest airports are experiencing flight cancellations. This has prompted London Heathrow (one of the busiest in the world) to limit flight capacity. Billimoria said that sometimes these situations are not as dire as they seem. “I don’t hear about people changing their destinations or itineraries based on this.”
Due to restrictions on ticket sales flights from London to Dubai are often full. Many flights offer multiple stops at destinations like Tel Aviv or Amman.
Emirates, which initially rejected Heathrow’s request for capacity cuts at short notice from airlines, eventually agreed to it. “Emirates has capped further sales from Heathrow to help Heathrow’s resource ramp-up and is working to adjust its capacity,” the airline stated in a statement.
Flying from Dubai to London will cost you between Dh2,000 and Dh2,500, while the return flight will run more than Dh3,000.
A few months back, long wait times were common for Saudi visa applicants. This has all changed. Moniz Billimoria, VFS Global, stated that although it was busy, appointments in Saudi Arabia are now available quickly, perhaps within 24-48 hours.
With the Kingdom emerging as a second hub for multinationals operating in the region, the demand for Riyadh or Jeddah travel has increased.
According to the VFS executive, Singapore is an attractive destination for UAE residents in Asia. “We renew passports for Filipino ex-pats and many of them travel back home.
The big shift will occur when China opens. It will be a game-changer for the Asia market. However, most of the travel from UAE is now to the West, and destinations such as Europe, Turkey, Canada, or the UK. Follow Us On Twitter