Travel plans of many Indian expatriates were affected as the Cochin International Airport has been closed until Sunday 3pm due to torrential rains in several parts of Kerala state.
Keralites form a significant part of the Indian expatriates in Qatar and many of them had planned to visit their homeland especially for Eid al-Adha that will be celebrated in Kerala on Monday.
Moreover, since it is the vacation season, many expatriates are already spending their holidays back home while many others are planning to travel in the coming days. Those who were supposed to return from Cochin (Kochi) airport after their vacation have also been affected.
CIAL (Cochin International Airport Ltd), the operator of the airport, has informed on its website that ‘airport closes operations till 15 hrs of Sunday.’ Following the announcement, three airlines operating direct flights daily from Doha to Kochi, namely, Qatar Airways, Indigo Airline and Air India Express announced that they have suspended their operations to Kochi until Sunday.
“Airport operations at Cochin Airport have been suspended until August 11 due to extreme flooding in the area. As a result, Qatar Airways has suspended all flights to and from Cochin until August 11, 2019. Passengers are advised to contact Qatar Airways 24-hour call centre on +974-4023-0000," Qatar Airways announced on its website.
"All our flights operating to and fro from Kochi are impacted due to airport closure owing to flood situation. We are offering change and cancellation fee waiver to the passengers travelling to Kochi from August 9 to 11,” said a statement by IndiGo Airline on its website.
Similarly, Air India Express has advised the passengers to make use of the Doha to Thiruvananthapuram flight “All our Kochi-Doha and Doha Kochi passengers are requested to avail the alternate Thiruvananthapuram Doha - Thiruvananthapuram service.”
Moreover, the airline has offered “Free modification/ full refund will be provided to the affected passengers booked to/ from Kochi.”
Meanwhile, Kerala is reeling under heavy rains that have lashed most areas of the state, causing havoc especially on the eastern hilly areas. This is the second consecutive year that the state is deeply affected by the floods causing severe damage to life and property.
Many flights to Kochi were rerouted on Thursday night to various nearby destinations causing inconvenience to hundreds of passengers from several destinations including those from Doha. Kochi airport had faced a similar situation during the floods last year when the facility was closed for several days.
‘My plan was to travel on Saturday morning by IndiGo. Now I am forced to postpone it to Monday. I hope that the rain subsides and Kochi airport operations become normal by that time,” said a long time Doha resident.
Another passenger who along with his family was to reach Doha yesterday had to postpone his schedule due to the prevailing situation. “I have still not got a confirmed ticket. I am looking to get tickets for August 15 or 16. The airline has not confirmed it yet and I am waiting for the confirmation,” he added.