Expatriates under the banner of the Kerala Muslim Cultural Committee’s Malappuram-Jeddah unit took out a march to the Air India office here on Wednesday protesting against the national carrier’s attitude towards Gulf passengers.

Inaugurating the march, Abdurahman Randathani, MLA and chairman of the Assembly Committee for the Welfare of NRIs, demanded that Air India end its policy of treating the Gulf passengers as “Guinea pigs.”

He said Air India had become a burden on the public exchequer because of the inefficiency of its officials and employees. “It is better to wind it (Air India) up rather than being a burden on the passengers and the public at large,” Mr. Randathani said.

The KMCC accused Air India of fleecing the Malayali expatriates in the Gulf, especially at a time when a large number of expatriates were facing a bleak future owing to employment regulations in countries such as Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.

Mr. Randathani demanded that the authority to fix airfares be taken off Air India and vested with the Civil Aviation authorities. He also demanded that special flights be put in service for Haj and Umra passengers.

Majeed Kotteeri, KMCC Jeddah-Malappuram secretary, said that Air India had increased its fares for the Gulf countries “without any logic or consideration for the people.” Comparing the fares to Europe and America with that to the Gulf, Mr. Majeed said that the national carrier was fleecing the Gulf passengers.

KMCC vice-president C.K.A. Razak presided over the function. P. Ubaidulla, MLA; K.P. Mohammed Kutty, KMCC Saudi national committee president; K.M. Shafi, Muslim Students Federation district secretary; Muslim Youth League leaders Mujeeb Kaderi, T.H. Kunhali, Latheef Musliarangadi, Ilyas Kallungal, Konnola Yusuf, Majeed Arimbra, A. Abdurahman, C. Ismail, and K.P.A. Nasar; spoke.

The KMCC later submitted a memorandum of various demands to the Air India manager.

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