India travel alert: Potential disruptions to UAE residents' plans as heavy rains hit Kerala

Some expats say they will alter their plans according to the situation, while several others feel otherwise

by

Nandini Sircar

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People wade through a flooded area as they carry a sick elderly man to a hospital, in Thiruvalla, Kerala. — PTI
People wade through a flooded area as they carry a sick elderly man to a hospital, in Thiruvalla, Kerala. — PTI

Published: Sat 8 Jul 2023, 6:00 AM

As UAE families prepare for annual trip to their home countries, residents planning to travel to the south Indian state of Kerala are expressing concern due to the heavy rainfall currently affecting the state.

In the last few days, the monsoon in Kerala has intensified, resulting in a red alert being issued in two districts of the state on Friday.


The heavy rainfall during this period has caused significant disruptions to daily life and forced thousands of people to evacuate their homes and move to relief camps. At least 40 people have also lost their lives in incidents related to rain from July 1.

Some people headed for their yearly trip back home say they will alter their plans accordingly, whereas several others feel otherwise.


UAE resident Reena Philip, who also operates a travel agency, said: “If there are heavy rains in Kerala, then I wouldn’t want to go now although I have booked my tickets for Thiruvananthapuram. I have no urgent commitments there and I am quite flexible in terms of my dates. I can go a little later. But as a travel agent, I know that there are families who book tickets much in advance to avail discounts and get tickets at a reasonable price. For them, it becomes an issue. But it happens annually and generally people are prepared for such a situation, and they factor in these things. Therefore, they book flexi tickets so that in case of heavy rains they can change the dates or postpone their travel by a few days.”

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In 2018, the Cochin International Airport in Kochi was closed for several days in the huge floods that took place that year. Airport infrastructure was damaged in the floods, with an estimated loss of Dh11-12.5 million.

Even in August 2019, the airport operations had to be suspended for a few hours due to the occurrence of heavy rainfall.

“Normally, airlines rebook and make those adjustments in case airports are closed. This happened in the past as well. But it also depends on which airport one is travelling to. If one is headed to Thiruvananthapuram then it should not be much of a concern but for the ones headed to Kochi or northern Kerala, which experiences heavy rainfall then adjustments may have to be made by such travellers,” she added.

Travellers prepared for different scenarios

Last year, five flights from the Middle East bound for Calicut Airport were diverted to Cochin International Airport on August 4 due to bad weather conditions in Kozhikode.

The India Meteorological Department has issued a red alert in Idukki and an orange alert has been declared in all districts except Kollam and Thiruvananthapuram. A yellow alert was sounded in Kollam and Thiruvananthapuram.

UAE expat for 18 years, Mohammed Ismail, said: “We are travelling at the end of this month. Frankly, my family and I are really looking forward to meeting our relatives and experiencing the rains. But if floods happen that becomes a problem. It becomes inconvenient not only for passengers but also for airlines and ground-handling agencies. Hotels, restaurants and eateries nearby remain closed and local commutes become difficult. However, we will be landing at Kozhikode, where the rainfall is comparably less despite being heavy. So, I am concerned and following the news but not worried yet.”

But others like Hafeef Tharamal may not be in a position to alter their plans as his family’s impending visa expiration is prompting the urgency. “My parents are going to Malappuram tomorrow. I know it’s raining heavily in Kerala. I will be a bit concerned till they reach safely. But as the visa expires soon, we don’t have much buffer. So, they need to travel back now, unless we are really compelled to change schedules due to extreme circumstances. But rains are not so uncommon for Malayali expats, we are used to it and are prepared accordingly,” said Tharamal.



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