Four crew members of Air India were detained by the Saudi Arabia police last week 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.
“We operated AI 931 on July 26. After landing in Jeddah, four of us went to have dinner outside. On our return, our taxi was stopped by the Saudi police to check our permits. On showing them our xerox from immigration and our valid AI Id we were put in the police vans and were told not to use cell phones. “Our xerox permits are invalid and going out is a big risk,” the crew members informed their colleagues in a message about the incident later. Staffers feel this incident occurred because of “miscommunication” between the local police and immigration authorities.
The Air India has now resolved the matter with Saudi’s immigration officials and the airline staffers will be issued a special Air India identity card. A four-month amnesty granted by Saudi Arabia to illegal migrants to leave the country without any penalties expired last week. It can now force deportation and imprisonment of persons who failed to return home.