Monday, May 11, 2020

Air India ready to fly Indian seafarers overseas to join ships

Mumbai: Air India said it is agreeable to take Indian seafarers to USA, UK and Singapore to help them join ships on work, while flying to various overseas destinations to bring back Indian nationals stranded abroad.

But, thousands of Indian seafarers stranded in various ports/locations across the globe are yet to be allowed to fly on the inbound repatriation flights.

“Seafarers with valid CDCs (continuous discharge certificates) and an employers’ letters indicating the name and details of the holder, and the port of commencement of duty (USA,UK and Singapore only) may also purchase tickets on outbound flights,” Air India said in a notice on the eligibility criteria for purchase of tickets for outbound repatriation flights by Air India and Air India Express under the Vande Bharat Mission.

“Repatriation of Indian seafarers from overseas is still being looked at,” a top Shipping Ministry official said.

For outbound journey, India seafarers can make use of the e-passes issued by the Directorate General of Shipping to go to the airport.

Seafarers looking to join ships, however, say that the plan is not workable.

“It’s not that easy,” said Dhyan Ramakrishnan, from Kozhikode in Kerala, who has been waiting since March to join a ship. The logistics has to be worked out with precision,” he noted.

“Normally what they do is they arrange the flight in such a way that the vessel arrives at the port and the joining seafarer reaches the destination airport. The company arranges for the ticket on the same day or on the day the ship is at the port,” he said.

Singapore is under lockdown till June 1 and contacting the shipping company there or arranging for an agent is difficult.
“I think it is basically to keep seafarers quiet. Nothing else. Nobody is going to go because everybody is crying for crew change and they want people to shut up,” said another seafarer from Maharashtra.

“Nothing is going to happen unless you have everything ready and all the companies involved in the crew change work together and coordinate,” he said.
10/05/20 P Manoj/Business Line
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