Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Over 20,000 Indians, among them Punjabis, stuck abroad due to ‘air crisis’

Jalandhar: Thousands of Indians, including Punjabi passengers, have got ‘stranded’ in the US, Canada, Europe and Australia for India’s biggest ever ‘air crisis’ largely triggered by abrupt grounding of over 600 Jet Airways flights and partly for temporary suspension of dozens of United Airlines, Air Canada and Turkmeinstan Airlines out-bound flights.

More than 5,000 Punjab-based passengers and around 15,000 people from rest of the country have got run aground in the USA, Canada, the UK, France, Italy, Germany, Australia, Dubai and other parts of the Middle-East as an outcome of unforeseen ‘ship wrecking’ of Jet Airways fleet on April 17.

The temporary suspension of Toronto-bound Air Canada and US-based United Airlines’ flights from New Delhi caused by clamping of ban on flying over Pakistan air space in April has only worsened the situation—resulting in a big seat capacity loss.
The worst-ever Indian ‘air crisis’ had started unfolding for the Punjabi and Indian air passengers and the country’s ‘once flourishing’ travel and tour industry, the moment the European Union (EU) had banned Turkmeinstan Airlines flights from Amritsar to the UK and Germany in March on safety grounds.

The EU, the travel trade insiders revealed, has banned the Turkmeinstan Airlines with directions to its management to first upgrade their existing planes and only then it would be allowed to fly to any European destination.

The first and largest-ever Indian Air ‘jumble’ has led to an unparalleledand huge monthly seat capacity loss crossing the mark of 20,000.

Thousands of Indian passengers stranded abroad --- mainly those who had bought return tickets from Jet Airways and the Turkmeinstan Airlines --- and who were on family visits ranging between 15 days to four months are in a fix what to do next.

“At least, I have not seen such a staggering situation in my over 40 year-long career in the travel industry. I am getting dozens of daily queries from foreign-stuck passengers. They have no option left but to buy new tickets at jacked-up prices (ranging between 30 and 200 per cent) to return home from whatever destination they have got stranded in. No airlines is adjusting passengers of any other airlines,” said D.P. Sondhi, a leading Jalandhar-based travel agent and former president of the Punjab Travel Agents’ Association.

He said Jet Airways has not extended any word even on the air-fare refund to its passengers even as, the Air Canada and the United Airlines were striving had to somehow ‘adjust’ their load with other airlines.
30/04/19 Varinder Singh/Tribune
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