Uniform mortal remains repatriation cost for expats urged

Migrant Forum of Asia
A call has gone out for unified rates across the GCC to repatriate the mortal remains of Indian expatriates. This comes as India’s national carrier, Air India (AI), introduced new levies, after its earlier method of calculating freight charges based on weight was widely criticised. The Indian community had raised concerns over the costs when Minister of State for External Affairs V K Singh visited Dubai in September 2017.
Under the new rates that came into effect on January 5, the airline will charge BD225 to transport per body with the human remains of children aged below 12 being charged 50 per cent less.
The decision also applies to passengers of Air India’s budget subsidiary Air India Express.
The cost of repatriation will be 1,500 dirhams from the UAE, 160 rials from Oman, 175 dinars from Kuwait, and 2,200 riyals from Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
However, a group of volunteers are now calling for a common rate across the GCC.
Yathra Samithi (Air Passengers’ Rights Protection Council) representatives met Air India officials and submitted a letter in this regard.
“I think we should have one rate across the Gulf,” representative KT Salim told the GDN.
“The rate from the UAE is the lowest at 1,500 dirhams (BD150), followed by Oman at 160 rials (BD156).”
According to him, the airline said the UAE was the cheapest due to a larger number of bodies being repatriated and shorter distances.
“But we urged AI officials to treat the transportation of mortal remains as a special case, and they agreed to discuss the issue with the airline’s top management.”
Mr Salim also pointed out that the new levy was not cheaper than the earlier charge.
“Earlier, the costs would be around BD300 and the new rate plus taxes and other expenses such as embalming fees, documentation and airline handling charges comes to around BD270 – which is only BD30 less.
“In most cases, the employers bear the cost of repatriating employees’ bodies, while in other cases families, volunteer groups such as the Indian Community Relief Fund or the Indian Embassy foot the bill.”
The Samithi members, who met AI country manager Saket Saran and marketing manager Narayana Menon, were also assured that the airline would soon launch direct flights from Bahrain to Kannur where an international airport – the fifth in Kerala – was opened on December 9.
“We have been told Bahrain-Kannur flights will operate from summer onwards, mostly from April,” said Mr Salim.
“The possibility of reinstating AI Express service from Bahrain to Thiruvananthapuram was also discussed, along with a suggestion that Bahrain-Mangalore flight be routed via Kerala in the upcoming summer schedule.”
Mr Salim was accompanied to the AI meeting by Aji Bhasi, Sunil Thomas and Badrudeen Poover.
Source: raji@gdn.com.bh via migrant forum of Asia (mfa)