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02 October 2023

UAE expats want reversal of Air India, AI Express baggage cut

By VM Sathish

Indians in the UAE are unhappy with the new baggage limit imposed by Air India and the budget carrier Air India Express, which came into effect Thursday [August 22, 2013].

Both the airlines have slashed the maximum baggage allowance by 10 kilograms - from 30 kgs to 20 kgs per passenger and have introduced a fee of Dh30 for the additional kilos.

A delegation comprising members of eight Indian expatriate associations from Abu Dhabi under the initiative of the Indian Media Abu Dhabi (IMA) has left for New Delhi to appeal to the Indian Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, the Civil Aviation Ministers Ajith Singh, and KC Venu Gopal; Indian Defence Minister A K Antony; the leader of opposition Sushama Swaraj and Congress leader Sonia Gandhi, said Anil C Idukkula, General Secretary IMA.

Meanwhile, numerous Indian community associations, radio stations, newspapers and other media in the UAE  have been running campaigns against the revised baggage rules.

Chiranathana Samskarika Vedi and the Siraj Daily held a meeting of Indian community associations on Thursday in Dubai to discuss various travel related problems faced by Indian expats.

“We called all the major Keralite community organizations in the UAE to attend the meeting at the Marcus Compound near Dubai Hospital,” said Punnakkan Mohammed Ali and Sharief Karashery, General Manager Siraj Daily in a joint statement.

They said the meeting discussed various problems facing passengers including arbitrary cancellation of airlines, lack of adequate facilities in various Indian airports, and the step motherly treatment meted out to airline passengers travelling to Kerala destinations.

“Feedback from various organizations will be forwarded to the concerned Indian authorities,” said Punnakkan Mohammed Ali, General Secretary of Overseas Indian Congress Council.

Voice of Kerala, 1152 a leading Malayalam radio station ran a programme and received emotional response from listeners from different GCC countries. “The airline is trying to fleece customers by charging Dh30 for extra baggage. It is unfair to cut the baggage allowance, a facility enjoyed by passengers for long time. If you calculate the total collection from 15 routes in the GCC, Air India Express will be making a whopping Rs10 million per day,” said an angry passenger on air.

Radio Me and other radio stations too are running similar campaigns against the baggage reduction decision.

Members from Indian community associations such as Kerala Social Center (represented by President Joy Thomas John), Malayali Samajam (President Dr Manoj Pushkaran), IMA (President  T A Abdul Samad, Vice President Augine Keeppura,) General Secretary Shibu Varghese, Indian Islamic Center (President Dr Bhava Haji), Indian International Cultural Centre General Secretary  (Hameed Eeswara mangalam) and Emirates Fraternity Forum (President  A M Ibrahim) have gone to New Delhi to press  for cancellation of the baggage reduction policy.

Kerala Muslim Cultural Center (KMCC), Dubai chapter, convened a meeting of various KMCC chapters and plans to launch a major campaign against the rule.

KMCC is collecting signatures from expatriates to present a memorandum to the Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and others. Anwar Naha K, President Dubai KMCC, PK Anwar Naha, General Secretary Ibrahim Murichandy, Treasurer T P Muhammed Haji and other officials will meet the Kerala Chief Minister demanding cancellation of the baggage fees.