Thursday, July 17, 2008

Indians duped by air ticket scam

By Zubair Ahmed
BBC News, Mumbai

Air India Airbus
The airline is offering discounts to stranded students

Dozens of Indian medical students who have been stranded in China after buying fake air tickets are being flown home, officials from Air India say.

The airline flew 12 of the students back to India on Monday.

Many students returning to India on holiday were left stranded in Beijing and other parts of China after they learnt their tickets were bogus.

Indian papers reported on Monday that the students were allegedly duped by a Bangladeshi travel agent.

The papers said that one of the students had filed a complaint with the Beijing police.

Air India spokesman Prasad Rao told the BBC that the airline would bring all the students back to India in the next two to three days.

"We have been approached by at least 30 students so far who are being brought back to India on regular flights from Beijing," he said.

On Sunday Emirates Airways and Malaysian Airlines were reported not to have accepted the students' e-tickets on the grounds that they were fake. They were prevented from boarding their flights.

Air India says more than 15 students are flying back on Tuesday and a batch of 20 will be put on a flight to India on Wednesday.

Mr Rao said they were giving priority to the stranded students but he said they were helping only those who were coming forward for help.

He clarified that the travel was not free and students were paying $631 (27,000 rupees) each, which is 15% less than the fares charged by other airlines.

Hundreds of Indian students travel to China and Russia to study medicine rather than sit stringent entrance tests in India.

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