US-based Indian facilitates repatriation flights for UAE Maharashtrians
The management of Orient Travels and Air Arabia took a lead in assisting the people. More flights have been chartered - Mumbai on July 1 and Pune on July 5.
US-based Indian Santosh Karande is actively facilitating repatriation flights for Maharashtrians based in the UAE, through his community group AAMI Pariwar (Akhil Amirati Marathi Indian) - a platform representing 7,000 members out of around estimated 30,000 Maharashtrians residing in the UAE.
"We managed to help 168 people via first Air Arabia chartered flight from Sharjah to Pune on June 20. We are also expecting more flights soon - Mumbai on July 1 and Pune on July 5. I have received a request from 650 people to fly back, so far," Karande told Khaleej Times.
"The first approval to fly residents was received on June 12 for the flight on June 13. However, the passengers needed time to organise as some had to resign from their offices and collect their passports, some had to surrender their apartments or settle bills. by midnight, it became clear that no one can even reach the airport on time. The flight was rescheduled," he added.
The management of Orient Travels and Air Arabia took a lead in assisting the people, said Karande. The Indian consulate and government departments allowed an extension to June 14. Orient Travels accepted payments online, through ATM machines and at all their branches with amazing flexibility and tickets were issued by nightfall.
Some of the passengers had already reached the airport from Abu Dhabi. Some had sold off their furniture and even given away all the groceries. And many others left with nothing.
"The arrangements at Sharjah Airport were well-organised. Seating passengers at designated areas with social distancing, taking Covid-19 tests in batches, providing PPE kits replete with all accessories, checking in the baggage and innumerable other favours that would have gone unnoticed," said Karande.
"Ground arrangements at Pune airport were also laudable. Passengers swiftly cleared immigration and health checkups. The officers at the airport were able to guide all passengers about what to do next. Local passengers were asked to self-quarantine in designated hotels. The state government provided all passengers with transport facilities," he added.
The passengers thanked the administrators of AAMI Pariwar, Orient Travels, Air Arabia, CGI, the UAE government, Maharashtra and India governments, Pune and Sharjah Airports and the Nandedkar couple for their efforts.
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