Hundreds of Gulf-bound passengers stuck in India due to massive rains

The tarmac of the international airport in Chennai remains inundated following heavy rains.

The tarmac of the international airport in Chennai remains inundated following heavy rains.

A large number of passengers bound for different destinations in Saudi Arabia and Gulf countries are stranded in Tamil Nadu, a south Indian state, where rains have broken a 100-year record, killing about 300 people so far.

“A few of my friends bound for Riyadh via Mumbai are still waiting for their flights from Chennai,” said Dhevan Ereri, who arrived in Riyadh from Tamil Nadu on Friday.

More passengers will be able to travel on Sunday or later this week as some airlines operating on the Gulf-Tamil Nadu sector have announced resumption of operations within the next few days.

“Air India operated two rescue flights, which landed at Tamaram Air Force Base, near Chennai, on Friday,” said Kundan Lal Gothwal, Air India manager in Riyadh.

“Air India will honor and accept all tickets issued by Air India offices, travel agents or portal from/to Chennai for travel from/to nearest airport like Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Mangalore, Thiruvanthapuram, Vishakhapatnam, Kozhikode, Coimbatore, Trichy, Madurai, Kochi, Vijayawada and Tirupati until Dec. 15 without any additional charge,” he said. “I, and my Saudi-based staffers, are available round-the-clock to help all passengers,” he said.

He said that all necessary support will be provided to passengers as the flood-ravaged Chennai city is still struggling to return to normalcy. Only partial restoration of flights was reported on Saturday.

Several Tamil organizations in the Kingdom and Gulf countries have requested the airlines to consider operating flights to nearby airports, including Trichy International Airport.

All Gulf carriers stopped operations to Chennai due to the closure of the airport, where the tarmac was inundated with water. Gulf Air, Oman Air, Emirates and Etihad Airways have put up travel adviseries and alerts on their websites stating that due to unavoidable circumstances flights to and from Chennai were canceled. Over 3,500 people were alone stranded at Chennai airport.

This figure does not include hundreds of thousands of people, who intended to travel to Chennai and then to onward destinations in the Gulf or elsewhere from different villages, towns and cities of the southeast Indian state. As per the latest notification, the Chennai airport will remain closed until Dec. 8, while partial operations, especially technical flights, started on Saturday.

An Oman Air spokesman said that the passengers traveling by Oman Air to Chennai are advised to travel via Bengaluru or re-book tickets and travel from Chennai after Dec. 10. Images of Chennai airport, the third busiest airport of India, and other locations of the flooded Indian city have gone viral on social networks.

It is important to note that some airlines, including Malindo Airlines and Air Asia (both from Malaysia), Tiger Airways (Singapore), Sri Lankan Airlines, Air India Express and Jet Airways from Gulf countries are operating to Tricky.

Indian expats in the Kingdom with loved ones in the flood-hit city of Chennai are anxiously following developments through news and social media as many phone services in Chennai are down.


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