Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri on Tuesday said that the government will operate 64 flights during the first week of the massive evacuation plan to bring back Indian citizens stranded abroad due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Between 7 to 13 May, India will send planes to the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom, Singapore, United States, Philippines, Bangladesh, Bahrain, Malaysia, Kuwait and Oman to bring back nearly 15,000 stranded citizens.
Puri said that Air India will launch the repatriation flights and private airlines may also join the evacuation effort, according to PTI.
Since the passengers will be paying for their journeys, the government has fixed prices. “Flights from London to Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Bengaluru and Delhi will cost Rs 50,000,” Puri said. “For Chicago-Delhi-Hyderabad, the rough cost will be about Rs 1 lakh.” Dhaka to Delhi flights will cost Rs 12,000, he added.
The government has also released an evacuation plan for the first week.
On Monday, the Centre had announced that it will start bringing back Indians stranded abroad in a phased manner from May 7. The passengers would use aircraft and naval ships and only asymptomatic people would be allowed to travel, the government had said.
The government also prepared a standard operating protocol for the passengers, involving screening for Covid-19 before taking the flight and after reaching the destination. On reaching the destination, the passengers will have to register on the Aarogya Setu app. They will be quarantined for 14 days, either in a hospital or in an institutional quarantine on payment-basis, by the concerned state government. They will be tested for Covid-19 after 14 days.
The Centre had evacuated hundreds of Indian citizens from China, Japan, Italy and Iran in March before the government closed the borders and all air travel. On April 30, the Indian Embassy in the United Arab Emirates and the United States began online registration to contact Indian nationals who are stranded in the two countries because of the lockdown.
India has so far recorded 46,433 coronavirus cases and 1,568 deaths.