By: Aswathy Nair
THE Indian government has finalised plans to operate 64 flights from May 7 to 13 to bring home nearly 15,000 nationals stranded abroad due to the pandemic.
These special flights would be operated by Air India and its subsidiary Air India Express to repatriate Indians from 12 countries — the UAE, the UK, the US, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines, Bangladesh, Bahrain, Kuwait and Oman.
India recently extended the lockdown, imposed on March 25, to May 17. All commercial passenger flights have been suspended for this period.
The Union home ministry said on Monday (4) that it will facilitate the return of asymptomatic Indian nationals stranded abroad in a phased manner, through aircraft and naval ships on a payment basis, except in extraordinary cases.
Between May 7 and 13, India is likely to conduct 10 flights to the UAE, seven to the US, seven to the UK, five each to Saudi Arabia and Singapore, and two to Qatar, said senior government officials on Tuesday (5).
It is also likely to conduct seven flights each to Malaysia and Bangladesh, five each to Kuwait and Philippines, two each to Oman and Bahrain.
Of the 64 repatriation flights, 15 would be from Kerala, 11 each would be from Delhi and Tamil Nadu, seven each from Maharashtra and Telangana, and the remaining from five other states.
“Approximately 14,800 Indian nationals are likely to return to the country through these 64 flights during the seven-day period. The government will run more repatriation flights after May 13,” said an official.
The coronavirus has infected more than 46,400 people and killed around 1,560 people in India till now.