Kochi airport closure disrupts travel plans of expats in UAE

UAE, Kochi, airport, closure

Flights to and from Kochi airport have been diverted or cancelled due to heavy rain in Kerala.


Ashwani Kumar

Published: Fri 9 Aug 2019, 11:49 AM

Last updated: Sat 10 Aug 2019, 1:51 AM

Eid holiday plans by Indian expats from Kerala have been disrupted after their flights were either cancelled or re-routed due to the closure of Cochin International Airport (KOC) on Thursday until Sunday.
Around 32 flights to and from Dubai, Abu Dhabi or Sharjah were affected by the airport shutdown that was caused by heavy rains and flooding.
Dubai-based Emirates airline experienced difficulties following the torrential downpours, which saw water level rising in Periyar river and a canal near the airport. An Emirates spokesperson said: "Due to the weather conditions at Cochin Airport, all flight operations to and from Kochi (COK) will now operate via Trivandrum International Airport (TRV) on August 9."
A flydubai spokesperson also told Khaleej Times: "Due to the closure of KOC, flydubai flights on August 9-10 have been rerouted to TRV. We will continue to monitor the situation and make changes to our schedule accordingly."
Air India and Air India Express also announced diversion of their flights.
Most people had booked air tickets at hefty prices and their travel plans were affected.
There were those going on a short break, annual leave and medical emergency. All of them rushed to nearby airline offices to get updates and find a quick solution.
Also read: UAE flights to Kochi diverted due to heavy rain
Plans go haywire
Ashalatha Gangaprasad was set to rush home to see her mother, who is in critical condition. "I have Sharjah-Kochi 2.05 am Air India Express flight on Saturday. My mother is in hospital. I was set to leave alone as the ticket fares are too high for my family to travel. I hope this flight will be diverted to either Thiruvananthapuram or Kozhikode airport. I am the only daughter of my parents and somehow I have to reach Aluva to see my mother."
Sujith, a Sharjah resident, had planned his trip to home pretty early and booked tickets for his three-member family to Kochi on Air India Express from Dubai on Saturday. He has his housewarming at Kottayam planned for next week. He said he received no information from Air India Express about any rescheduling. "I have to check with the airline for any updates and if they cancel the flight, I will have to look for some other flight to Thiruvananthapuram.
Deepu Sankar, a Dubai resident, had his Emirates flight from Kochi to Dubai rescheduled from Thiruvananthapuram with a 13-hour delay. He was on his way to Kochi airport after midnight for the morning flight when he got a message about the reschedule.
K.H. Tahir, Abu Dhabi-based social worker, was set to fly on Thursday to Kochi, and said he hoped to leave by Friday or Saturday after waiting for more than 24 hours.
"My family left earlier for Kerala and is awaiting me to start their Eid celebrations. I was set to leave on Thursday night. It's tragic what's happening in Kerala. But I commend the way Air India Express has managed this situation."
Tahir regrets having wasted crucial days out of his week-long break. "Anyhow, my concern is how I will reach my home in Guruvayur from Thiruvananthapuram. Trains are cancelled and roads are flooded. I have to be with my family for Eid."

Holiday plans affected
Abu Dhabi resident Sandeep Sasi had his annual leave start off on a wrong foot.
"I am from Kochi city and flight diversions to any other destination will be challenging for me. Anyhow, I prefer to get out from here than wasting my annual leave. I will hopefully leave by Saturday and stay with my sister in Thiruvananthapuram."
Dubai resident Bose Prathap is set to reschedule his travel to Kochi with his family. "I have tickets booked for early morning flight on Monday. With Kochi airport shut till Sunday and heavy rain expected for the next few days, I have to reconsider my travel plans."
Another Abu Dhabi resident, K.G. Manoj, said his fixation to Air India helped him.
"I have Air India's Abu Dhabi-Mumbai-Kochi ticket for Saturday. So I am assured of reaching Mumbai. From there, I can hopefully travel by train."
Flight diversions, free refund
"We have a contingency plan. From today, flights operating on Kochi-Abu Dhabi-Kochi and Kochi-Dubai-Kochi routes will be diverted to Thiruvananthapuram airport. Kochi-Sharjah-Kochi flights will be diverted to Kozhikode. Our main concern is first accommodating passengers from yesterday's cancelled Abu Dhabi-Kochi flight. We are doing this on priority basis. We are working full time to attend to all our customers."
Air India Express is also offering free re-booking and full refund to affected passengers.
(with inputs from Anu Cinubal and Angel Tesorero)
ashwani@khaleejtimes.com | anu@khaleejtimes.com 

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