Workers stranded at HIA for hours

May 02, 2014 - 5:18:44 am


DOHA: Many low-income workers from different Asian countries arriving here for the first time to take up new jobs were stranded for several hours at the newly-opened Hamad International Airport (HIA) yesterday as representatives of their companies did not come on time to receive them. 

Most of the arriving passengers this newspaper spoke to praised the facilities and services at the new airport, the world’s newest aviation hub, which partially opened on April 30 with 10 budget-airlines operating from it. They include flydubai, airarabia, Nepal Airlines and Air India Express.

But one passenger was unhappy at his baggage arriving late. 

“I travelled by flydubai yesterday from Dubai and my baggage came today (yesterday). When I enquired about my missing baggage, I was told that they were not loaded from the origin,” said Mohammed Nimer, an Arab national working in Qatar. 

Nimer said it should be the responsibility of the airline to deliver the missing baggage to his address. 

“Why should I come to the airport again in this scorching heat for other’s mistake,” he asked.

The stranded passengers, mostly Nepalese and Indian labourers, who remained held up at the airport without food for several hours looked exhausted after their journey by airarabia and flydubai, which do not offer complementary food to their passengers free of cost. 

“I am waiting since 7am, and have made two phone calls since then to my company. It’s been more than six hours now, there is no sign of anyone coming to receive me,” said a Nepalese national who is here to take up a job as a security guard offered by a European company dealing in private security services. 

With only QR30 in his pocket, he said: “After having waited for two hours, I went to buy some food and water in the only open cafeteria at the waiting lounge, but returned empty-handed as I found everything unaffordable. Even a bottle of water is being sold at QR10.”

He said that finally he had to rely on tap water and the little food that remained in his bag after the long journey from Kathmandu to Doha via Dubai. 

Kumar, who has worked in Malaysia, Dubai and several other states for several years, said: “This is the best airport among the all I have traveled from in many respects. For instance it took less than 10 minutes to check-out.”

A member of a group of six passengers of airarabia, all of them employed by a construction company, said: “We took off from Mumbai airport at 9:50pm yesterday (local time) and landed in Sharjah on time. But we had to wait for eight hours at Sharjah airport for a connecting flight to Doha.”

Another member of the group said: “We had no problem in the airport as we found staff to assist everywhere. But we have been waiting here for over four hours for someone from the company to come,” adding with a smile on his face, “All the food that we carried with us was exhausted at Sharjah airport.”