Air India's repatriation flights delayed by a day; first departure tonight

Air India Express will operate two flights to Abu Dhabi and Dubai on Thursday
Air India pilots and cabin crew have to undergo Covid-19 tests before being cleared to operate evacuation flights. This has now led to a slight delay in operations.

“Only those crew and staff who have tested negative will be allowed to operate these flights,” the home ministry said. The first departure from Delhi to Singapore is now planned on Thursday night. The first flight from Mumbai to London is expected to take off on Friday morning, according  to the revised schedule. Air India Express will operate two flights to Abu Dhabi and Dubai on Thursday.

These flights will be operated from Kochi and Kozhikode, respectively. The airline will also operate one flight from Kannur to Dubai next week. The national carrier on Wednesday opened booking for its special flights to the US, UK and Singapore to enable NRIs and stranded citizens to return. On the return leg, the airline will fly Indians stranded in these countries.

The government on Tuesday announced the first phase of evacuation exercise comprising 64 flights to West Asia, London, Singapore and the US. These flights will be operated between May 7 and May 15.

The airline has opened booking for 10 flights to London, Singapore, New York, Chicago, San Francisco and Washington. A seat in the economy class from Mumbai to London on May 8 was available for Rs 72,000, while tickets between Delhi and San Francisco for travel on the same date was available for Rs 1.39 lakh.

On arrival passengers will be have to undergo thermal screening. Those with visible Covid-19 symptoms will be isolated and transferred to a hospital. The other passengers would be screened again at a triage facility at the airport and will be asked to undergo quarantine at home or government facility based on risk factors. At Delhi airport, 20 medical teams will be deployed for examining the passengers.

In the first phase, 64 evacuation flights will be operated and around 15,000 citizens will be brought home.

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