COVID-19: Foreigners await the last flight out at KIA

Coronavirus: Desperate foreigners await the last flight out at KIA

Representative image. (Credit: DH Photo)

Desperate to get out of India before all international flights are halted for a week due to Covid-19 scare, many stranded foreign passengers spent several anxious hours at the Kempegowda International Airport (KIA) here on Saturday.

At least four Europeans were not allowed to take a morning Emirates flight to Dubai. Reason: Their connecting flights were from a different airport in Dubai, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) had cancelled Visa on Arrival for all except its citizens.  

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Krzysztof Sikorski, a renewable energy professional from Poland was one of those stranded at KIA. “I was supposed to take the 10.25 am Emirates flight, but was not allowed to board. I am now hoping to take the 8 pm flight to London, spending another 14 hours in Dubai,” Sikorski told DH.

Low on cash, Sikorski had opted to take a low-cost connecting flight from Dubai. He had no clue while booking that the second airport would prove to be so troublesome.

Sikorski was not sure whether he would get any refund. “I don't know. I have to wait and see,” said the 22-year-old, who was low on cash as well. His pleas for help from the airline and other airport agencies went in vain. Four French women passengers had to face the same problem.

They want to kick us out!

For Canadian Benjamin Scott, the ordeal had begun right from Gokarna, where he and Spanish friend Sergi Mora were virtually kicked out of a guest house. Lucky to get into a bus, the duo had headed straight to the airport. But Scott had not heard about the international flights ban.

"You go to a supermarket or a restaurant, they think you are the virus because you are a foreigner. I am scared that if we are stuck here, we will not be able to sleep and eat," said Dergi Mora.

Scott was not sure whether his flight to Toronto via Dubai would arrive early Sunday morning. Anxious about the prospect of staying back another week, he feared he would have to endure the Gokarna experience all over again.

Back in Gokarna, he said tourists were being refused guest houses, hotels and restaurants. “Even whe we tried to enter a small town, the police did not allow us. The police were harassing us, shouting nonsense like get out, get out. They were very persistent and rude, asking us to get to Bengaluru and get out,” he recalled.

Scott said it was understandable that people were getting afraid for good reason. “But they shouldn't be targetting tourists. It is pretty frustrating and discriminatory. They see us as bringing the disease, which is illogical. It is misinformation.” 

"The flights ban doesn't make sense to us tourists. It seems they want to kick us out of the country. But now they stop the flights, and we are stuck in India and we can't sleep or eat!" he added.

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