India’s move to refuse permission for chartered flights by UAE-based airlines is a big blow to hundreds of expatriates who had planned to travel to their home states.
Their only hope for repatriation now is to secure a seat on the limited flights operated under the Vande Bharat Mission evacuation programme and chartered flights by India-based airlines.
Most Indians seeking repatriation have lost jobs, and many have no hope of landing another job amid the crisis wrought by the coronavirus pandemic. So the best option is to cut the losses and rush home.
Some pregnant women, the elderly and many others too prefer to go home. The Indian repatriation flights are limited in number and cannot cater to the large number of Indians stranded in the UAE. Here’s where the chartered flights by UAE-based airlines have come to the rescue.
Whatever the issues are, they have to be ironed out soon. Every day is a struggle for expats who have lost their jobs. The sooner they get home, the better it is for them
Ever since India launched the repatriation flights in May, there’s been a scramble for tickets. In the early phase, tickets were given away depending on a passenger’s emergency. The commencement of chartered flights broke that gridlock allowing Indians to travel home if they could afford it.
Community groups and volunteer groups in all the emirates have been working round the clock to organise chartered flights. Several benevolent people have helped fund the flights, and some others sponsored tickets for the expats who couldn’t pay for it.
Chartered flights have ferried people directly into places like Srinagar and Guwahati, cities which are serviced only by a handful of flights. That took a heavy load off the Indian airlines involved in the repatriation programme.
So the Indian aviation regulator’s decision to pull the plug on chartered flights by UAE-based airlines came as a surprise. On July 2, many expats had gone to the airport in the hope of catching the flight home.
Some of them had vacated their houses and sold their belongings as they were sure of flying home. The decision of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation in India left these expats in the lurch.
These flights had received approvals from the respective state governments and the Indian diplomatic missions in the UAE.
Which means all facilities and other logistics for testing and quarantine have been in place. This is why the aviation regulator’s decision is baffling.
Whatever the issues are, they have to be ironed out soon. Every day is a struggle for expats who have lost their jobs. The sooner they get home, the better it is for them.
Indian officials should understand their plight, and pave the way for the resumption of all chartered flights from the UAE.