Air India Stops 50% Discount on Transporting Mortal Remains from UAE
Air India has stopped giving 50% discount on transporting mortal remains of Indians who die in the UAE.
National carrier Air India has stopped the 50% discount it was giving to transport the bodies of Indians who die in the UAE. The airline has also decided to stop transporting bodies for free for the distressed and low-income Indian families, causing worries for lower-income Indian families living in the emirates.
According to Khaleej Times, Air India has confirmed that the special discount has been canceled from Sept. 19.
According to a senior Air India officer, the decision was made in accordance with The Air Cargo Tariff (TACT), with the standard rate specified by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), Gulf News said.
“As per the business rules of carriage of human remains in international stations, the IATA’s normal TACT rates are being applied by Air India all over its network, except in the UAE where we were giving 50 percent discount. However, the headquarters has decided to unify the fares internationally as per the Tact rates effective Sept. 19,” the publication quoted a senior Air India official as saying.
He has also said that the freight charges that were previously waived off while transporting body remains of disadvantaged Indian families has also been stopped too.
“When the consulate used to send a letter [to waive charges in the case of distressed Indians], it used to be accepted on a gratis basis. The freight charges were not taken. This has also been stopped now,” the publication noted.
Indians living in UAE will now have to bear the cost of repatriation of bodies themselves or get it reimbursed from the Indian Community Welfare Fund (ICWF), an organization aimed at assisting Overseas Indian nationals.
The decision has been criticized by community leaders and the group of social workers in the UAE who have been constantly working to make the lives of Indian community better. According to them, the charges will be almost unaffordable for lower-income Indian people.
Indian Ambassador to the UAE, Navdeep Singh Suri said, “We reassure that for the destitute, the embassy and consulate are there. Ready to take on a larger responsibility and fill the void left by Air India. We will take the full responsibility in cases where the family is unable to meet the cost. We will also assist where the sponsor, employer or insurance company fail to bear the expenditure,” he told the Khaleej Times. “The embassy remain committed to repatriation of mortal remains to the place of residence in India under the guidelines of ICWF. This year alone the embassy had coordinated with the ICWF to repatriate mortal remains of 49 individuals.”
The report also quoted several social workers who have urged the national flag carrier to rescind the decision.
Nasar Kanhangad, a social worker who has handled the repatriation of the body remains of Indians in UAE told the publication, “We have been petitioning the airline and the government to make repatriation of bodies free of cost. This new decision to hike the charge is shocking.”
Ashraf Thamarasherry, another social worker told the publication, “The cargo charges of repatriating human remains to the Kerala sector was priced at approximately Dh1,800 to Dh2,500, depending on the weight on the remains. For example, if the weight of the remains is at 80 kilos, he will require a box that weighs Dh60, totaling 140 kilos.”