Seven non-scheduled special flights will operate from Saturday to fly back Indian nationals stranded in the US amidst the international travel lockdown over the coronavirus pandemic, the Indian embassy here said.
A computerised draw of lots would identify the names of the Indian nationals for the special seven flights back home, due to the limited number of seats available.
On Monday, the Indian government announced plans to begin phased repatriation of its citizens stranded abroad from May 7. Air India will operate 64 flights from May 7 to May 13 to bring back around 15,000 Indian nationals stranded abroad amid the COVID-19-induced lockdown, India’s Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said on Tuesday.
India is conducting its biggest-ever repatriation exercise named Vande Bharat Mission sans social distancing and COVID-19 tests to bring back stranded Indians from abroad.
Beginning May 9, Air India has scheduled seven non-scheduled commercial flights from the US to India facilitating the return of Indian nationals, who could not travel due to COVID-19 related international travel restrictions, the embassy here said in the latest advisory issued on Wednesday night.
“Since the number of seats on the flights would be limited, passengers with the compelling cases such as those facing medical emergencies or requiring return due to bereavement in the family, students, pregnant women, elderly or those facing expiry of visas will be given priority, and identified through an electronic random selection method, the embassy said.
The first of the series of seven flights will fly from San Francisco to Mumbai and Hyderabad on May 9 and the second flight from the city will fly to New Delhi and Bengaluru on May 13, the Indian embassy here said in a media release.
Tickets for these flights range from USD 1362 (over Rs 1 lakh) for economy class to USD 3722 (over Rs 2 lakh) for business and USD 5612 (over Rs 4 lakh) for the First-Class passengers.
The embassy cautioned that the one-way fares mentioned are provided by Air India; and subject to change. Additional fare may be charged for domestic sectors.
Air India has scheduled two flights from Newark, in New Jersey on May 10 (to Mumbai and Ahmedabad) and May 14 (to Delhi and Hyderabad). Similarly, two flights have been scheduled from Chicago on May 11 (to Mumbai and Chennai) and May 15 (Delhi and Hyderabad). The solo flight from Washington DC on May 12 will fly to Delhi and Hyderabad.
According to the media advisory, all passengers will be required to undergo medical screening before boarding the flight and only asymptomatic passengers will be allowed to travel. All passengers on arrival in India will be medically screened and would have to download and register on the Aarogya Setu app.
Further, all passengers will need to undergo a 14-day mandatory quarantine on arrival in India in institutional quarantine facilities on payment basis as per the protocols framed by Government of India. COVID test would be done after 14 days and further action would be taken according to applicable health protocols, it said.