New Delhi: An Air India spokesperson confirmed on Friday that the Saudi Arabian government will not retain the passport of the Indian airlines’ crew members on arrival in the country and issue a barcode instead. This move will benefit Air India and Jet Airways, who fly to the country.
The spokesperson said that the Indian authorities took up the issue with the Saudi authorities and the decision not to retain the passport of Indian airlines’ crews came into existence from mid-February this year. This also states that the bar code given to the crew members will now have limited validity.
This was done in the backdrop of Saudi Arabia allowing the new AI flight from New Delhi that flies to Tel Aviv and flies over Saudi’s airspace. It was also considered a major diplomatic development in West Asia. Jet Airways could not be contacted for a confirmation.
For long, passports of Indian crew members arriving in the country were taken away and given back on return. This led to major problems for the crew members in the country. In July last year, four crew members of Air India were detained by the Saudi Arabian Police in Jeddah as they could not show them the original copies of their passport.
According to an Air India pilot, crew members of all airlines are required to deposit their passports at the immigration office at Jeddah, which issues a certificate. Airline staff deposit this certificate at their hotel and keep a photocopy with themselves. Thus, the staffers only have photocopies of their travel documents during their stay in the country.
The crew members were out for dinner a day after their flight from Mumbai landed in Jeddah when a police team approached them to check their travel papers. When the airline staff failed to provide the original documents they were put in a police van and their phones confiscated.
After the matter was resolved, it was decided that the airline staffers will be issued a special Air India identity card.
(With PTI inputs)