13 expats split Dh135,000 cost to fly on a private jet to Dubai

 khaleejtimes.com  06/29/2020 16:45:37   Sami Ha Zen/Dubai

Sami Ha Zen/Dubai

Filed on June 29, 2020 | Last updated on June 29, 2020 at 08.28 pm
coronavirus, covid-19, special flight, Al Maktoum airport

Two days after his arrival in Dubai, Indian expat Mudassir Ali can't still believe he is back. After being stranded in India for four months, he chose to take the expensive route - flying via private jet with 12 other strangers. And the cost? Dh135,000 for 13 passengers."I had joined a few Facebook groups for stranded residents from where I found a person working at Al Maktoum airport, who talked to me about the option of using private jets. I was desperate to get back and got in touch with Dubai-based Empire Aviation Group, which quoted Dh135,000 for 13 passengers," he said.Ali was then briefed on a number of conditions, including a contract that must be signed. "The cheque should be paid in a single person's name. Valid visas, passports and Emirates IDs of all passengers were required to get the necessary approvals. Finding 12 people who could afford to take the risk was hard," he said."We were all strangers who met on social media and it was hard to build trust. In fact, I was asked what if I misuse the documents or runaway with money. Our Whatsapp group of 30 people, created on June 18, dropped down to 13. But, finally, I managed to convince everyone that I was just a husband and father, trying to get back to his loved ones - just like many of them."Ali said he could have waited until flights resumed but seeing the videos of his daughter broke his heart every time. "When will Papa come home?" the little Aiza Syed Ali kept asking. "I could've waited, but four months is too long. I knew that travel would get back to normal but I couldn't take it anymore. I had to make the chartered flight happen."Focused on the process, Ali kept all his co-passengers in the loop via email, where all doubts about the private jet were answered. All of them had their GDRFA approvals and they chose Mumbai as their boarding destination, as it was the city closest to Dubai and the cheapest in the lot. Ali travelled from Bengaluru to Mumbai and all the 13 strangers finally met to board the private jet that will bring them home to their loved ones. "We flew from Mumbai at 4pm on Saturday and reached here around 5.45pm. We had to wear masks and gloves on the flight and, upon reaching Dubai, we took Covid-19 tests. I got my negative test result the next morning at 5am."It was the biggest challenge of my life. It entailed so much responsibility and trust. I am glad all went well," said Ali, relaxing at home with his family.

sameeha@khaleejtimes.com

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