The UK government on Friday announced an additional 17 charter flights next week, with a total capacity of around 4,000 passengers, to bring home British nationals stranded in India since last month amidst the international travel lockdown over the coronavirus pandemic.
The latest flights are scheduled for London from Ahmedabad on April 20, 22, 24, 26; from Amritsar on April 21, 23, 25 and 27; from Bangalore (via Ahmedabad) on April 23; from Delhi on April 21, 23, 25 and 27; from Goa on April 20, 22 and 24; and from Mumbai on April 26.
The new set of flights takes the total number of repatriation flights from India to the UK to 38.
“We know this is a difficult time for British travellers and there is great demand for these flights,” said Lord Tariq Ahmad, the Minister of State for South Asia and the Commonwealth in the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO).
“This is a huge and logistically-complex operation, and we are working tirelessly with the Indian Government and state authorities to help more British travellers get home,” he said.
The FCO said that people who are deemed most vulnerable will be prioritised for seats on these flights and that the majority of seats are likely to be allocated to people who are already on the waitlists, given the number of people who have registered for a flight back.
Jan Thompson, Acting High Commissioner to India, said: “There will be 17 more charter flights next week to take British travellers back to the UK – on top of the 21 flights announced previously.
“We are working around the clock to arrange additional flights from locations where we know large numbers are still stranded and are extremely grateful for the support we are receiving from the government of India and local authorities.”
The British High Commission in New Delhi said that British residents who have already registered for the flights do not need to take any further action at this stage. If they have secured a seat, they will be contacted directly with further information about their flight.
Those who wish to register for a flight but have not already done so are directed to visit the FCO’s India travel advisory.
The initial 21 UK government charter flights that were announced previously have been operating since last week and are expected to help over 5,000 British nationals return home.
An estimated 35,000 British nationals are currently in India.
These charter flights, part of the UK government 75-million pounds COVID-19 repatriation programme, are for UK travellers who normally reside in the UK and their direct dependants.
As movement within India is currently very restricted, those who are eligible to fly are sent information on how to get to airports and flight itineraries directly when their seat is confirmed.
India is under a 40-day lockdown as part of larger efforts to curb spreading of the coronavirus infections.