As COVID -19 hit hard and commercial flights were grounded, it was Gaura Travel who spearheaded the facilitation for about 2000 stranded Indians in Australia, to make that voyage back home to India.
It is about “finding out of box solutions… as travel is all about finding solutions”, said Ashwini Sonthalia talking to Bharat Times.
Brothers, Ashwini and Abhishek, who pioneered organising overseas travel during this pandemic, not only worked around all the restrictions and official paraphernalia in operation, but also flew all passengers back home, safely & securely.
“Our first flights started when we were in Stage 3 restrictions in Melbourne so luckily there was some movement and our team came together 2-3 times a week and got through hurdles…”.
Currently the Gaura Travel operation runs remotely, other than when the brothers are at the airport themselves, “assisting passengers to board and fly in safety”.
Providing this much needed resource for stranded passengers, has been a gratifying experience – “we really wanted to help our community… (and) we feel very grateful and humbled to be an instrument in their much-needed journey”.
Some testimonials from Gaura Travel clients:
“Was wonderful experience with Gaura Travel to reach Amritsar from Melbourne. Had such a smooth journey from ticketing till reaching destination. Everything was so well managed and planned. Got good food and Gaura Travel explained everything with ticket on what all would be required at airports. Thank you so much”
“Gaura Travels team, I am jealous of you now as you guys are so lucky having blessings of so many parents, elders and the Punjabis. Carry on serving humanity with service as your priority with limited interest in other things. God will definitely showers his blessings in this way or the other. Thks”
Multi award winner in international travel, Gaura Travel has been in operation for 12 years now, having served over 100, 000 dedicated clients, the agency is highly “equipped to provide a safe and secure journey back home”.
Talking about future travel and what to expect in the current circumstances, Ashwini said that “international travel in 2020 and beyond has completely changed.
“Everything that we all were used to pre-COVID… will be very different post COVID-19. There will be lot more checks and regulations and increased protection measures to ensure that we are all safe.
“Meals are mostly pre-packed snacks to avoid any contact between crew and travellers.”
PPE (protective equipment) is made available to every passenger and all flights operate under strict restrictions and safety measures, even for interactions between crew and passenger.
As before, bassinets will be available for infants, “in fact we have had some infants travelling on our charter flights recently without any issues.”
With borders closed for quite some time, Gaura Travel be organising more regular flights for those who need to travel for essential purposes or get back home – “we are very encouraged with the blessings and support of our community and are looking to continue organising more flights in AUG/SEP 2020 or for the foreseeable future until normal commercial flights resume”.
While almost 9000 travellers have returned to India from Australia in the last few months, there are however, restrictions for in-travel and “doesn’t seem to be changing until 24th OCT 2020”, according to Ashwini.
NSW, QLD, WA, ACT, SA are taking inbound travellers, however, at a much smaller capacity which “makes it very unviable for operating any charter flights into Australia”, at this stage.
Talking about his own journey with Gaura Travel, he said, air travel is just like “driving a car – we can go from one place to another via so many roads.
“So I always tell my team members: don’t tell any passengers that there are no seats/flights available, there is always a solution – if there is a need”.
THE ONE FACTOR – for the success of Gaura Travel: “Looking for solutions for our customers”.
“We were the pioneers in 24/7 Customer Service, SMS Messaging, it is but obvious that Gaura Travel would pioneer “charter flights for our customers”.
CHANCES OF A GAURA AIRLINE – “Well, we never thought we will be filling 7 charter flights full only with Gaura Travel customers, so it’s encouraged us to think in a different way.
“As they say ‘Never say Never’; with the blessings and support of our community, and our hard work and innovative solutions anything is possible”, said Ashwini before rushing back to the Melbourne Airport for the next Gaura Travel charter flight out to India. with RD inputs