A delegation representing prominent Indian expatriate organisations that visited New Delhi to lobby against Air India Express’ new baggage rule was given a good hearing by senior Indian officials. The delegation is confident the rule will be reversed within one month.
The seven-member-delegation went to the Indian capital following a decision by the government-owned budget airline to cut its baggage allowance on flights from the Gulf to India, from 30kg to 20kg and charge Dh30 for the extra 10kg.
As the decision affects low- and middle-income Indian expatriates who depend on the budget airline, all Indian expatriate organisations in the Gulf protested against it. “Senior Indian government officials, including Cabinet ministers and senior executives of Air India, have promised us that the new baggage rule will be reconsidered,” Joy Thomas John, honorary president of the Indian Social and Cultural Centre (ISC), who was part of the delegation, told Gulf News over the phone from New Delhi yesterday.
The delegation led by the Indian Media Association in Abu Dhabi met Defence Minister A.K. Antony, Civil Aviation Minister Ajith Singh, Indian Overseas Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi, Minister of State For Civil Aviation K.C. Venugopal and several other senior government officials.
"We explained to them the difficulties faced by Indian expatriates and all of them gave us a patient hearing. Considering their response, we do believe that the new baggage rule will be reversed within one month,” John said.
Meanwhile, a senior Air India executive said the new baggage rule had received a mixed response from passengers since it came into force on August 22. “Passengers who had booked the tickets before the rule was announced are still able to carry 30kg baggage. Among the others, some are utilising the privilege to carry an extra 10kg above the 20kg allowance by paying Dh30,” Seema Srivastava, regional manager of Air India in Middle East and North Africa, told Gulf News.
She said the rule was made to accommodate more passengers to India on Air India Express flights. On a 180-seat flight, 160-165 passengers used to be accommodated because of heavy baggage, she said. By reducing the baggage, more passengers can fly to India, she added