Why Air India evacuating foreign nationals, asks Congress

  • Why Air India evacuating foreign nationals, asks Congress

Why Air India evacuating foreign nationals, asks Congress

Even as global COVID-19 crisis spread, the United Kingdom is all set to evacuate its nationals from India with seven charter flights being announced from Goa, Mumbai and Delhi. Since movement is restricted in India because of the complete lockdown to check spread of Coronavirus, travellers have been advised to only apply for flights leaving from the state they are now in. "Earlier, Air India had ferried Israeli nationals to Tel Aviv as well in a chartered flight", it added.

On April 2 Air India operated two flights from Mumbai to Frankfurt in Germany; these flights carried relief materials and European nationals stranded in India after the "total lockdown" announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on March 24.

After entering the airspace in Pakistan, the Karachi ATC welcomed the Air India flight and praised them for their work and wished them good luck for their mission.

An estimated 35,000 British nationals are now in India, out of whom over 20,000 have contacted the British High Commission to say they wish to return to the U.K.as soon as possible.

Acting High Commissioner to India Jan Thompson said, "We know how worrying the past few weeks have been for British nationals in India". Where commercial routes do not exist, the Government will provide up to £75 million to enable special charter flights to bring home United Kingdom residents.

While trying to contact Pakistan Air Traffic Control (ATC), the response surprised the pilots.

The FCO did not respond to a request for comment regarding the price of relief flights from India or when further flights would be scheduled. The captain told ANI that he had never seen Iran giving a direct route of 1,000 miles in his entire career. "Normally in such flights we spend maximum number of hours in Iran airspace but Iran also gave us a shorter route", the Air India official told. All the ATCs from Mumbai till Frankfurt conveyed their best wishes to the captains.

After Iran, the Indian flights entered the Turkey airspace and then Germany. "This is Karachi's control welcoming Air India for relief flights to Frankfurt", the senior captain said. The crew members and the pilots are now in self-quarantine for 14 days. The government had also suspended all worldwide flights to control the pandemic, following which many foreign nationals got stuck in India.