Construction firms block-book flights to relocate or repatriate staff as downturn hits the Gulf

Construction companies have commandeered dozens of planes to fly 20,000 Indian workers out of the UAE next month because builders no longer need them.

Indian carriers, such as Air India, have received bulk bookings from firms who have decided to relocate staff to other parts of the Gulf or sending them back to India on long leave.

The Indian consult-general in Dubai, Venu Rajamony, added: “Some big companies from Dubai have projects in Abu Dhabi and Qatar and are repositioning their workers to these places. They are not cancelling their workers' visas because it will be difficult to get new visas later.”

Rajamony said he estimated there were around one million Indian workers in the UAE.