Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 12 August 2020

CORONAVIRUS

Coronavirus: next wave of UAE repatriation flights to India to begin this week

Thousands of Indians will board 81 special charter flights announced as part of the third phase of the massive operation

Another wave of repatriation flights from the UAE to India is set to begin this week.

About 14,000 Indian citizens will board 81 special charters announced as part of the third phase of the massive operation.

The first flight will leave for New Delhi from Abu Dhabi on Tuesday.

The majority of the flights, more than 50 in total, are to Kerala. But there are a range of other destinations on the itinerary, including Punjab and Uttar Pradesh.

There has been a huge demand for the repatriation service, with a reported 350,000 Indians applying to their embassy for help to return home, according to embassy officials.

That is more than 10 per cent of the 3.4 million-strong Indian community in the UAE, which is the largest outside the country anywhere in the world.

India has been under lockdown since March 24, when the government shut down international and domestic flights and train services between states.

The country recently extended restrictions until May 31.

Domestic air travel and passenger train services remain suspended.

Travellers who have been able to return on special repatriation flights have been placed in 14-day quarantines in hotels.

Roughly 6,000 Indians have so far left the UAE since the evacuation programme began on May 7.

The second phase of the repatriation flights will run for two weeks from May 26 to June 8.

Those seeking to return to India included people who were in the UAE on tourist visas seeking work, as well as others returning home after losing their jobs.

However, the Consul General of India in Dubai, has said some of the 350,000 who had registered included families who wanted to fly back for holiday, as well as others who were returning to seek medical treatment.

Vipul said many have also had second thoughts, with less than a third typically accepting their places on repatriation planes out of the UAE.

He said some people also applied thinking the tickets were free.

One aircraft ferrying around 170 prisoners who had been deported from jails across the UAE after completing their sentences were among the first and second wave of repatriation flights.

Dozens of pregnant women were flown home on another flight from Dubai to Kochi.

The 75 mums-to-be on the flight were accompanied by medical staff who were on hand to offer assistance if required.

Updated: May 24, 2020 03:21 PM

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