Only airlines can apply to operate chartered flights

Setback to voluntary organisations, industrial houses in West Asia which plan flights to repatriate NoRKs to the State

The Centre’s decision barring institutions and organisations from applying directly for operating chartered flights from foreign countries to bring back stranded Non-Resident Indians has come as a setback to voluntary organisations and industrial houses owned by Keralite businesspersons in West Asia who have secured the nod to charter flights to repatriate employees and others to the State.

Airline companies will have to directly approach the States where the chartered flights are to be operated to secure their consent from June 25.

However, institutions and organisations can approach airlines to arrange chartered flights to the country.

The Kerala Muslim Cultural Centre (KMCC) alone was behind the operations of more than 70 chartered flights for repatriating Non-Resident Keralites (NoRKs) from the United Arab Emirates.

Volunteer organisations such as the KMCC were able to bargain with private airlines for bringing down ticket rates and arrange flights for two months.

Indian embassies had asked them to give a written statement of the fares charged for the flights.

Official sources said the Centre’s directive was in the wake of the misuse of the facility by individuals taking slots for the flights in advance and even going for open auction of tickets.

Fresh applications

Those who have already secured the consent of the States and clearance from the Ministries of External Affairs, Civil Aviation, and various agencies from the country and abroad can operate the flights as per the slot and schedule approved.

But, individuals and institutions awaiting non-objection certificate (NOC) and clearance will have to submit fresh applications through airline companies.

The Centre has asked the airline companies to submit applications to the State government for securing consent with copies to Indian embassies and consulates. The airlines can approach the Ministry of Civil Aviation only on getting the NOC.

The State and the airline companies have been asked to work out the flight schedule and other modalities such as COVID-19 test at airports and quarantining of flyers.

Non-Resident Keralites Affairs (NoRKA) Department has issued guidelines for securing consent to operate chartered flights and applications should be submitted seven days in advance to the Principal Secretary, NoRKA.

The State has given consent to operate 462 chartered flights till June 30.

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