Saudi Arabia stops retaining Indian crew passports on arrival

In a major relief to crew of Indian carriers flying to Saudi Arabia, the authorities there have stopped retaining passports of crew members on arrival. Two Indian airlines, Air India and Jet, fly to Saudi and their crew used to get passports back while flying out of the country. India had taken up the issue with the authorities there and Saudi has now stopped this practice.

An AI Spokesperson said: “Crew passports are not being retained, instead a number is entered in crew passport which has a limited validity and crew has to do bio-metric finger printing on each entry.” Jet also confirmed the move.

A senior pilot of Jet Airways had raised the issue with the aviation and external affairs ministry last summer. “A passport is a citizen’s personal proof of identity and nationality when in foreign land, without which a person’s status instantaneously declines to that of a refugee. (Saudi) cannot be allowed to treat its visitors with such disdain. We enter their airspace and country only at their request and permission,” the letter titled “passport retention – Saudi Arabia” sent to aviation and foreign ministries said.

While Saudi had been retaining crew passports for a long time, last July the crew of an Air India flight to Jeddah were detained during random checks for documents while travelling in the city. They were released after the airline intervened and told the police the crew did not have original documents since the same had been retained on arrival at Jeddah airport.

It”s all because of great personality like Maam Shushma Swaraj who sleeps less but thinks more of Indians. Allah grant her very healthy life. Jai Hind.Shoeb Ahmed

Last August, AI asked its crew members operating flights to Saudi Arabia to carry their names on the hotel letter pad along with the telephone numbers of the hotel, immigration and airport. “All crew are hereby informed that along with the crew permit and Air India identity cards in Jeddah, you are now required to carry the details of crew names written in Arabic on the letterhead of the hotel. The letterhead will also have the phone numbers of the hotel, immigration department and airport. All crew laying over at Jeddah are required to comply with the above requirements for their own safety,” AI had told its crew members who operated flights to Saudi.

With Saudi stopping this practice, crew members of Indian airlines can breathe easy there. This is the second step taken by Saudi in recent days in the field of aviation cooperation. The other being Air India operating its flights between Delhi and Israel over Saudi airspace enroute, in a first for any commercial airline flying to or from Israel in last 70 years.

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