Air India today opened booking for special flights to US, UK and Singapore to enable non-resident Indians and stranded citizens to return to these countries. On the return leg the airline will fly Indians stranded in these countries.
On Tuesday the governement announced first phase of evacuation exercise comprising of 64 flights to West Asia, London, Singapore and the US. These will be operated between May 7-15.
The airline has opened booking for ten flights to London, Singapore, New York, Chicago, San Francisco and Washington. An economy class seat from Mumbai to London on May 8 was available for around Rs 72,000 while tickets between Delhi and San Francisco for travel on the same date was available for Rs 1.39 lakh.
On Thursday, the home ministry issued standard operating procedures for evacuation flights and this stipulates who can travel on the outbound flights. This includes citizens of destination countries, those who hold visas of that countries for one year among others.
The home ministry has also made it mandatory for pilots and crew to undergo Covid-19 tests in order to operate evacuation flights.
The requirement of mandatory Covid-19 test was communicated by home ministry to the airline on Tuesday evening and this has now led to a slight delay in operations.
"Only those crew and staff who have tested Covid-19 negative will be allowed to operate these flights," the home ministry said in its standard operating procedure. The crew will have to undergo a test again on arrival in India.
Air India Express will operate two flights to Abu Dhabi and Dubai on Thursday. These flights will be operated from Kochi and Kozhikode respectively. The airline will also operate one flight from Kannur to Dubai next week.
On arrival passengers will be have to undergo thermal screening. Those with visible Covid-19 symptoms will be isolated and transferred to a hospital. The other passengers would be screened again at a triage facility at the airport and will be asked to undergo quarantine at home or governement facility based on risk factors. At Delhi airport twenty medical teams will be deployed for examining the passengers.