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Expats disappointed as repatriation flight from Doha to Kerala capital is cancelled

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Thiruvananthapuram, May 10: For 180 odd Keralites who reached Doha airport on Sunday morning eager to return home it turned out to be a disappointing day with the Air India Express repatriation flight being cancelled and rescheduled as permission for landing in the Qatar capital was not given.

Representational Image

The flight, which was to have left from the Karipur Airport in Kozhikode to airlift the passengers from Doha and bring them here,had not been given landing permission from the Interior Ministry of Qatar following which it has been cancelled, Thiruvananthapuram District Collector K Gopalakrishnan said.

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"It has been re-scheduled for Tuesday. We are in regular contact with the Indian embassy," he told reporters here.

All the 181 passengers, including 15 pregnant women and children,had already reached the Doha airport by 11 am to take the flight as they were directed. According to Revathy, a passenger booked on the cancelled flight, it was disappointing they could not take the flight after the long wait.

Only after relatives of some passengers from Kerala called them and enquired, Doha airport officials told them that the flight had been cancelled, she told a television channel. India has started the repatriation of its citizens stranded in various countries, especially expatriates from Kerala in Gulf nations, since Friday and around 1,500 people have already arrived in the state by air and sea route.

In anticipation of the arrival of the flight, the airport and district authoritieshere conducted thirdmock drill on Sunday morningand completed all preparations to receive the passengers from Qatar, returning home after being stranded there due to the coronavirus lockdown.

The collector said they had not received details, as of now, on why the landing permissionhad not been received. The flight was to have left from Kozhikode airport around 1.30 pm to Doha and reach the state capital at 10.45 pm.

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Meanwhile, Congress MP Adoor Prakash shot off a letter to Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri stating that the last minute cancellation of the flight was "disappointing".

"The reason for last minute moment cancellation of this flight is not clear. It is very disappointing for our citizens including, pregnant women and those who require immediate treatment" stranded in Qatar," Prakash said in the letter.

He also wanted immediate steps for operation of the flight from Doha without further delay.

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