Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Dubai-Kozhikode Air India crash: Do you suffer from fear of flying? You are not alone

Dubai: The August 7 crash of Air India Express Flight IX1344 from Dubai to Kozhikode, in the southern Indian state of Kerala, has stirred the familiar old talk about ‘fear of flying’ in many. While Air India Express, the low-cost arm of Indian national carrier Air India, resumed flights to Karipur Airport in Kozhikode on Sunday and operated two flights to the same airport, sources at the airline’s reservation counter have reported some cancellations and rescheduling of flights with many even opting for a change of destination!
Take the case of P. Shahnavaz, a Dubai resident who hails from Mallapuram, in Kerala. Last Sunday, he was scheduled to fly to Kozhikode, but rescheduled his ticket to next week and also opted for a change of destination — from Kozhikode to Kochi, though the Karipur Airport in Kozhikode was nearest to his hometown. He told Gulf News: “The runway at Karipur is a table-top and with the current monsoon season, does not look safe for landing. In fact, airlines with bigger aircraft have stopped flights to Karipur. Only smaller aircraft can land there. In the current scenario, I would much rather fly to Kochi,” said Shahnavaz
Shahed Abdul Rehman, hailing from Kozhikode and a human resources manager with a health-care group in the UAE, had booked his ticket for October to fly home with his wife and child. “I was anyway in two minds because of the existing COVID-19 situation and I had learnt from my cousins that everyone returning from this region has to spend 23 days in quarantine. I was planning to change our tickets. Now with this accident, I am postponing this indefinitely. We might not fly this year at all, maybe next year. Also, our destination airport will be Kannur, which is two hours from my home in Kozhikode. The closest airport is Karipur, but I will not be flying to that airport,” he said categorically.
Rehman added that the current accident had triggered fear and uncertainty in the minds of the people. “We knew the airport at Karipur was tricky for landing during monsoons. After the current accident, if at all we fly, we will chose Kannur airport, which, although located on a hill, is still safer because it has been newly-built,” he reasoned.
A spokesperson from Air India said: “We resumed flying to that sector [Kozhikode] and although we have witnessed some cancellations and reschedulings, it is difficult to know whether fear is the reason.”

There are some others who have pushed the fear factor aside to bravely be on the flights that were planned. Fathima Sahla Sawad, 20, a psychology student from Kannur district who was stuck in the UAE on a visit visa since January, chose to take the 11.30am SpiceJet flight from Ras Al Khaimah to Kozhikode on Monday. Just before flying out, she told Gulf News from the airport: “I came here in January, to help my husband and parents with the catering business they run. However, since the lockdown, business had suffered and I was not able to return within the three-month period. So I had to extend my stay, but now that I can go back, I prefer to resume my studies and take charge of my three younger siblings in Kozhikode. I am not afraid of flying as I leave the outcome to the almighty. There is no point living in fear,” said Sawad, who had reached home at the time of writing this report.
10/08/20 Suchitra Bajpai Chaudhary/Gulf News
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