Monday, November 15, 2021

India-UAE travel: Soaring airfares dampen stranded expats' bid to return

At least 19,000 Indian expatriates, who returned home after the Covid-19 pandemic broke out in March 2020, are unable to travel as they cannot afford the expensive air tickets.

Several stranded Indian expatriates have been without an income for over 20 months and their savings are also almost depleted.

UT Khader, who represents Mangaluru in the Karnataka legislative assembly, told Khaleej Times that he had appealed to the Union Minister for Civil Aviation, Jyotiraditya Scindia, airline companies, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi to direct the banks to help those who are in dire need of money for airfares.

“Many of them will lose their jobs if they don’t report on time. These are mostly unskilled and semi-skilled workers who seek job opportunities in West Asian countries. The state governments of Kerala, Karnataka and Goa must try to subsidise airfares to the Arabian Gulf returnees to help them keep their jobs,” the lawmaker said.

Several stranded expatriates, who are yet to be fully vaccinated, are also scared that they may not be able to get back until they are inoculated.

The Indian Red Cross Society and the district administrations of the coastal districts of Kerala, Karnataka and Goa have organised vaccination drives to tide over the looming crisis.

“So far, 9,000 non-resident Indians (NRIs), who are mostly expatriates from the Arabian Gulf region, have received the jabs. Stranded expatriates working in the Middle East belonging to Kerala and Goa have been vaccinated,” said Yathish Baikampady of Indian Red Cross Society from Karnataka.

15/11/21 M Raghuram/Khaleej Times

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