Jeddah: Several NRIs who have lost their jobs and wish to return home have been running from pillar to post to get seats in special charter flights being operated by some leading travel agents in collusion with some so-called community organisations in the Gulf region.
Though some expatriate organisations that have a proven track record for community service, mainly Kerala NRI organisations, have excelled in repatriation of their community people, organisations from other States are struggling to arrange flights.
Also, some unknown or lesser known organisations have surfaced to cash in on the demand, and many of them are working on behalf of travel agencies, widely publicising in social media about their proposed flights. They lure prospective passengers who can pay an advance amount under the guise of ascertaining if they were genuine travellers. Also, they charge abnormally high fares especially in the Hyderabad sector, where fewer flights are being operated under the Vande Bharat Mission.
Unlike Kerala, there is no price cap system for charter flights to Hyderabad leading to exploitation of the situation. There is lack of transparency in charter flights starting right from the addresses and locations of organisers to airfares and specific date of travel.
In Saudi Arabia, chaos and confusion prevails as far as Hyderabad and Vijayawada sectors are concerned due to lack of information on flight dates, as it keeps changing, quarantine charges etc. Internal bickerings among some community leaders has only worsened the situation.
In the United Arab Emirates, the situation is pathetic with 600 Telangana NRIs anxiously waiting to fly back to Hyderabad. The flight landing permission from Abu Dhabi and Dubai is pending with the State government in Hyderabad, sources said.
“178 passengers from Abu Dhabi scheduled to fly by Etihad on Tuesday are anxiously waiting for a word of confirmation but are yet to receive landing permission from Hyderabad,” says a source.
Saudi Arabia, UAE, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman and Qatar – the six Gulf nations – are ready to operate special charter flights to Hyderabad.
The Telangana officials, the sources said, were insisting that local arrangements such as hotel bookings and transportation would have to be done by individuals since the charter flights were being operated on a commercial basis. Due to logistic issues, Telangana is unable to handle more than four repatriation flights, and it gives priority to Mission Vande Bharat flights, not charter flights, official sources said.
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