Udayavni Special

14 new charter flights to bring COVID-19 stranded Brits back from India

PTI, Apr 24, 2020, 9:15 AM IST

London: The UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) on Friday, April 24 announced 14 new charter flights from India eight from Amritsar, five from Ahmedabad and one from Delhi to repatriate British residents stranded in the COVID-19 lockdown back to the UK.

The FCO said 3,600 more stranded travellers will be able to return home from India as a result of the new charters scheduled between April 28 and May 4.

Once completed, these additional flights will bring the total number of people flown to the UK from India on 52 UK government charter flights to over 13,000.

“Travel to and from India is severely restricted and so we have organised a series of charter flights. Through these 52 UK charter flights, we will have brought back 13,000 people and our staff in India will continue to support all those UK nationals who need our help,” said UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, the minister who finalised the GBP 75-million repatriation scheme for stranded Britons around the world.

FCO Minister of State for South Asia and the Commonwealth Lord Tariq Ahmad has been coordinating the exercise with his Indian counterparts and respective state chief ministers to help put the logistics in place for the flights.

“We have already helped over 6,500 people return from India since we began our charter flight programme, with a further 7,000 due to return in the coming weeks. The 14 new flights announced today bring the total number of UK government charter flights from India to 52,” said Ahmad.

“We are continuing to work around the clock to ensure all British travellers in India are supported to come back to the UK if they wish,” he said.

Jan Thompson, Acting High Commissioner to India, added: “We are extremely grateful for the close and continuing support of the Indian government and airport authorities in facilitating this unprecedented repatriation exercise.

“We are continuing to work around the clock to get as many British nationals home as possible.”

Since the coronavirus outbreak began, the FCO says it has worked consistently with governments, air carriers and travel companies to minimise disruption and help British travellers return home safely supported with GBP 75 million for special charter flights to priority countries, focused on helping the most vulnerable people.

More than 13,200 people have already returned to the UK on 63 flights organised by the FCO from 18 different countries and territories, including over 700 from Pakistan, over 1,700 from South Africa and over 1,200 from Peru.

The charter flights are for British nationals who normally reside in the UK and their direct dependents.

Details regarding flights, luggage allowance and costs are available on the FCO’s India Travel Advice page.

Seats on the flights are only available to those already registered and on a waitlist.

Those who are eligible to fly will be sent information on how to get to airports and flight itineraries directly when their seat is confirmed.

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