The Central government is likely to operate 64 flights from May 7 to 13 to bring home around 14,800 Indian nationals stranded abroad because of the coronavirus lockdown, said senior government officials on Tuesday.
These special flights would be operated by Air India and its subsidiary Air India Express to repatriate Indians from 12 countries -- the UAE, the UK, the US, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines, Bangladesh, Bahrain, Kuwait and Oman, said the officials.
India has been under a lockdown since March 25 to curb the spread of the coronavirus and it will continue till May 17. All commercial passenger flights have been suspended for this period.
Therefore, the Ministry of Home Affairs announced on Monday it will facilitate the return of asymptomatic Indian nationals stranded abroad from May 7 onwards, in a phased manner, through aircraft and naval ships on a payment basis.
Between May 7 and 13, India is likely to conduct 10 flights to the UAE, seven flights each to the US and the UK, five to Saudi Arabia, five to Singapore and two flights to Qatar, the officials told PTI.
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It is also likely to conduct seven flights each to Malaysia and Bangladesh, five each to Kuwait and Philippines, two each to Oman and Bahrain, the officials noted.
Out of the 64 repatriation flights, 15 would be from Kerala, 11 each would be from Delhi and Tamil Nadu, seven each would be from Maharashtra and Telangana, and remaining flights would be from five other states, the officials said.
"Approximately 14,800 Indian nationals are likely to return to the country through these 64 flights during the seven-day period. The government will run more repatriation flights after May 13," one of the officials said.
The coronavirus has infected more than 46,400 people and killed around 1,560 people in India till now.