Coronavirus: Indian actor Mammootty leads free air ticket drive for Indian evacuees
The tickets would be given away free of cost to the most deprived and stranded expatriates.
South Indian film actor Mammootty is spearheading a massive relief effort to provide free air tickets to cash-strapped expatriates waiting to be repatriated by special flights being operated by Air India.
Mammootty has undertaken this mission in his capacity as chairman of Kairali TV, a south Indian channel.
John Brittas, managing director of the popular Malayalam channel, said 1,000 air tickets would be given away free of cost to the most deprived and stranded expatriates from Kerala in the first phase of the mission.
"We are exploring the possibility of launching chartered flights to evacuate hundreds of such expatriates in distress to Kerala from the GCC countries. For this operation, special permissions have to be obtained from government authorities in India and their counterparts in the GCC states," said Brittas.
In the second phase of the mission, titled "Kairali joining hands for expats", hundreds more eligible expatriates will be provided with flight tickets. "The mission is drawing enthusiastic support from several quarters. Already several businessmen and firms in the GCC and India have come forward, pledging their support by paying for the tickets," said Brittas.
"A screening panel, comprising prominent non-resident patrons, has been constituted under megastar Mammootty, who is the chief patron of this mission, to ensure that only those who are in dire straits would be provided with this one-way ticket costing around Rs15,000." The panel includes OV Mustafa, a director of Norka Roots, a government welfare body for non-resident Keralites, and VK Ashraf, an industrialist based in the UAE. EM Ashraf, Kairali TV's Middle East head, will be coordinating the relief mission along with S. Ramesh and Mohammed Faiz, both joint convenors.
Air India Express has so far flown eight repatriation flights to Kerala from the Gulf in the first leg the 64-flight global evacuation drive called 'Vande Bharat Mission.'
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