Saudi Arabia won’t retain passports of Indian crew on arrival

The government of Saudi Arabia has decided not to retain the passports of the Indian airline crew members on arrival in the country and issue a bar code instead. The move comes as a big relief to the crew of Air India and Jet Airways, the two Indian airlines which fly to Saudi.

The decision not to retain the passports of the crew of Indian airlines came into effect from mid-February this year. The bar code given to the crew members will have limited validity.

The development also comes against the backdrop of Saudi Arabia allowing a newly introduced Air India flight from New Delhi to Tel Aviv fly over its airspace, which is being seen as a major diplomatic development in West Asia.

For long, passports of Indian crew members arriving in Saudi Arabia were taken away and given back only on return, which led to major problems for the crew 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 passports.

Crew members are required to deposit their passports at the immigration office in Jeddah, which issues a certificate. Airline staffers 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.