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Threat of job loss for Malayali expats as UAE cancels flights from and to India – The New Indian Express

Indian expats have started exploring newer transit locations such as Armenia, Uzbekistan and Ukraine to circumvent the travel restrictions.
Published: 28th June 2021 03:48 AM  |   Last Updated: 28th June 2021 02:35 PM   |  A+A-
For representational purpose. (File photo| AP)
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: When he booked the lone flight from Kochi to Dubai immediately after the UAE announced the lifting of travel restrictions from India on June 23, Rahul Balakrishnan was hoping to make a quick return to rejoin the banking firm he was working with in the emirate city and finally renew his rental agreement. 
However, all his hopes were dashed soon enough, with the flight being cancelled after the UAE extended the suspension of flight services to and from 14 countries including India till July 21.”The bank I am working with asked me to take leave when I was forced to extend my stay here. Now I am on loss-of-pay and the situation has become a threat to my job security,” Rahul said.

Binu Mathew, who works with a hospitality firm, also rued his decision to wait for direct flights while his colleagues travelled via Armenia to reach Dubai. “It was a risky decision because there were reports of travel agencies cheating customers. Besides, any ban during the transit would result in them getting stranded and losing money. However, my colleagues took the decision anyway to protect their jobs,” he said.
Indian expats have started exploring newer transit locations such as Armenia, Uzbekistan and Ukraine to circumvent the travel restrictions. They travel using chartered flights to reach the transit countries, where they spent a 14-day quarantine period before taking the trip to the UAE. The trip is costly and fraught with risks.
“My company has started preparations for the Dubai Expo. If I cannot make it, they will not keep me on the roll for long. I am easily replaceable,” said Binu. The Dubai Expo 2020 was rescheduled to be held from October 1 this year.  
Even the employees who were offered the work-from-home option are feeling the pressure. Archana TK, a software employee with an Abu Dhabi-based company, complained that she had to undertake a 40 per cent salary cut for the extended stay.  
The travel ban, which was imposed on April 25 and later extended in batches, is currently expected to be lifted on July 21. Earlier, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh were popular among the diaspora as transit countries, but this option too went away after the UAE banned travel from these countries.
The vice-president of the state chapter of IATA Agents Association of India, CM Girish Kumar, said lakhs of people are waiting to return as soon as the ban is lifted. “There are several people who came just for a 10-day leave. They are frantically trying to save their jobs, reunite with their families and restart their businesses in the UAE,” he said.
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