Passengers stranded at airports

Passengers stranded at airports

Passengers of canceled flights wait in Hamad International Airport (HIA) in Doha, Qatar, Tuesday. — AP

By Saeed Haider
Saudi Gazette

DAMMAM — Chaos prevailed at King Fahd International Airport here among passengers who were to travel to their respective destinations on board Qatar Airways via Doha.

The General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) announced on Tuesday that it has decided to cancel all licenses granted to Qatar Airways, close all its offices in the Kingdom within 48 hours from the date of the announcement and withdraw the licenses granted by it to all Qatar Airways employees.
It has called on all passengers who have purchased tickets to and from Qatar to communicate with the airlines or travel agents through the website.

Since last evening passengers have been toiling at the KFIA to get any alternative flight.

All airline counters remained closed and airline officials were seen asking passengers to go back home and take the refund from their respective agents.

According to Syed Waheed Lateef, General Manager of Azmeel International Travel and Tours, Qatar Airways issued a circular to all travel agents stating that “the airline will make full refund without any penalties for all tickets booked on Qatar Airways up to June 12.”

Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker was rushing to Doha on private jet from Cancun in Mexico where he had gone to attend the International Air Transport Association annual conference.

A Qatar Airways check-in assistant in Dammam admitted that it was a very grim situation and several hundred passengers in Europe, Americas, South East Asia, subcontinent and Far East were stranded.

He said the airline tried to re-route passengers through airlines of those countries with which Qatar still has diplomatic relations, but failed as most of the airlines are over booked.

Abdul Qader traveling to London, Heathrow, by Qatar Airways via Doha said the airline told him to go home and apply for refund from travel agency.
“I have an important business meeting and will get a huge setback if do not reach London by tomorrow morning,” he said.

Dozens of workers from the subcontinent were seen at the airport in utter confusion.  Most of these passengers are blue-collar workers.

Umrah passengers

Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) is in talks to bring back Pakistani passengers of Qatar Airways stranded in Doha, an official said on Tuesday.
The Pakistani passengers were supposed to fly to Saudi Arabia via Doha to perform Umrah.

“There are two options for PIA. Either take them from Doha to Jeddah, and for that we will be needing Saudi government permission. Or the second is to bring them back to Pakistan and take them to Saudi Arabia,” Mashhood Tajwar, spokesman for the national carrier, told Reuters.

Tajwar said the number of stranded Pakistani passengers was not clear because they were customers of Qatar Airways, but PIA was in contact with the Pakistani embassy in Doha to get details.

Qatar is home to global airline Qatar Airways and many airports in the Gulf region are major hubs for international connecting flights. Qatar’s main Hamad International Airport, for example, served about 9.8 million passengers from January to March, according to its website.

The air route between Doha and Dubai is popular among business travelers and both are major transit hubs for travelers between Asia and Europe.
FlightRadar24, a popular airplane tracking website, said Qatar Airways flights already had started to be affected.

“Many of Qatar Airways’ flights to southern Europe and Africa pass through Saudi Arabia,” the site said. “Flights to Europe will most likely be rerouted through Iran and Turkey.” — With agencies