Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Expatriates’ return: Kerala puts airfare ball in Centre’s court amid COVID-19 crisis

Kochi: Who will bear the airfares of expatriates returning from the Gulf? Will all those registering on the NORKA-Roots website be brought back for free? The cash-strapped Kerala government put the ball in the Centre’s court when Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, in his daily briefing on Monday, said the Union government should bear the financial burden of bringing people back to their homeland.

Left to them, the airline companies are certain to fix higher airfares given social distancing norms inside aircraft and the likelihood of fewer passengers on the return flight from Kerala.

A spokesman for the Emirates said, “Seats are pre-allocated with vacant seats placed between individual passengers or family groups to observe physical distancing protocols.” The Emirates did not comment on the likely airfares in the Gulf-Kerala sector when operations resume.

Kapil Kaul, CEO and director of CAPA Advisory, an aviation consulting firm, said he expects the central government to bear the cost of bringing expatriates from the Gulf. He reckoned national carrier Air India will be pressed into service while also seeking the help of other airlines.
29/04/20  Rajesh Abraham/New Indian Express

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