Mangaluru, May 30, 2020: The first chartered flight to the city of Mangalore, Karnataka in South India is scheduled to depart from the Ras Al Khaimah airport on June 1.
The SpiceJet flight, chartered by Praveen Shetty, chairman of the Fortune Group of Hotels and president of the Karnataka non-Resident Indian Forum (KNRI), will repatriate 105 staff members of the hotel group, who have been placed on leave.
Consul General of India to Dubai Vipul confirmed the reports, and said, the flight will carry home a total of 180 passengers. The flight will depart at 9.45 am.
On May 26, private companies and community groups have been authorised by the Government of India to allow private aircrafts and chartered operations on international sectors in view of the coronavirus pandemic.
A few charter flights, organised by private companies have already departed from Abu Dubai, said Vipul. "The flight from RAK will not be the first one to depart from the UAE in these circumstances," he added.
The Consul-General said mandatory IgG/ IgM tests will be conducted before the passengers depart, similar to the tests conducted as part of the Vande Bharat Mission.
60 per cent of hotel staff sent on paid leave
A total of three out of the seven Fortune Group of Hotels in the UAE are non-operational at the moment. "I have donated one hotel branch as a quarantine facility to the UAE authorities, taking the total non-operational facilities to four," explained Shetty. A Fortune hotel in Tbilisi, Georgia has also been earmarked for institutional quarantine, added Shetty.
"Presently, I am sending 60 per cent of my hotel staff back home to India on paid leave. Three our properties in the UAE continue to remain open. The staff and their family members being repatriated on the chartered flight work for the four that have been temporarily closed," explained Shetty.
However, Shetty said he has not cancelled the visas of any of his staff and will bring them back to the UAE once the pandemic completely subsides. "I have paid the air tickets for all the staff members and their leave salaries have been paid as well. Some of the staff have been working with me for over 17-years. I well intend to bring them back," he added.
The returning staff are all residents of Mangalore, Udupi, Kasargode and Kundapura districts in Karnataka. "A few staff from other hotel groups are travelling on this flight as well. Staff from other states in India are departing on the Vande Bharat Mission flights," said Shetty.
Vande Bharat Mission continues smoothly on the side-lines, the Consul- General Vipul told Khaleej Times that all flights as part of the Vande Bharat Mission has been operating smoothly. "A total of seven flights departed from Dubai today (Friday, May 29) and another seven tomorrow will depart tomorrow (Saturday). Four flights each left for Kerala and one each to Hyderabad," said Vipul.
A flight to Delhi will take off on Saturday, and as part of the next phase, special flights are also departing to Indian states such as Goa, Jaipur, Ahmedabad, Trichy, Coimbatore, Madurai, and Chennai.