Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju on Thursday said that additional flights to and from Qatar had been arranged to cater to Eid and school vacation traffic. On Twitter, he said the flights should not be seen as an “evacuation as reported at some places”.
This comes a day after Raju had tweeted: “All steps necessary for timely movement of our citizens from Doha will be ensured. I and Sushma Swaraj ji are in touch on this issue”. Earlier this week, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had also taken up the matter of additional flights between India and Doha, weeks after Qatar was diplomatically isolated by several countries including Saudi Arabia.
Out of the 6.5 lakh Indians in Qatar, nearly three lakh are from Kerala. After Qatar was cut off by other Gulf nations – including Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates – on June 5, flight operations in and out of Doha have been hampered. Swaraj had earlier said that the diplomatic stand-off of Qatar does not affect India.
The Ministry of External Affairs on Thursday also said that Indians in the region are “safe and secure” and do not need to be evacuated. “There are regional political developments because of which there is a problem in connectivity,” MEA spokesperson Gopal Baglay said.
Jet Airways will run extra flights between Mumbai and Doha on June 22 and June 23, and Air India Express will operate flights between Kerala and Doha from June 25 to July 8. While the Jet Airways plane is a 168-seater, Air India Express can accommodate 186 passengers.