Starting May 9 till May 15, seven flights will be taking close to 2,000 Indians back to Mumbai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Chennai, Ahmedabad and Bengaluru from the UK.
There are two flights to Mumbai and one each to the other cities. Details of the flights are available on the High Commission of India website.
There is one flat fare for all the flights: £539 for economy class (Rs 50,661) and £1493 (Rs 1,40,328) for business class inclusive of all taxes.
These are selective flights and those who have registered their intention of going back on the HCI website will be considered according to their urgency.
The Vulnerable category is defined as those who are sick and elderly or have suffered death in the family and also pregnant women are included.
Each flight with a maximum capacity of 303 passengers will carry around 250 people in order to maintain social distancing.
The seven flights in all will only be able to carry, even if the number is stretched, 2,000 people while those who have registered their intention to go back are over 10,000 in number.
This is clearly causing immense distress and anxiety, especially amongst students who have been raising their voice on the issue for a long time.
Rabinoor Khurana, who is a student at the University of Dundee says, “I appreciate that finally, the government has a plan to take us back, but I would have appreciated more if we were given a bit more notice. I don’t think most of us students will be able to get back on any of these seven flights as we are not counted in the vulnerable category and we have no clue when the second phase of flights will be scheduled. Also, we find the fares to be very high as we have already lost money on tickets bought earlier.”
Another point that has put off many people is the mandatory charged quarantine on reaching India which is not included in the cost of the flight.
Abhishek Sharma came to the UK on a business visa but thanks to coronavirus his business is on a backfoot and he has a family to support in India.
In this situation for him to pay the money for the flight and quarantine is a real difficulty considering he has not earned anything for the past few months.
“I am not sure what can be done for people like me – what is the government even thinking, just to make money out of a tragedy like this? I am really out of words right now,” said Abhishek to India Today TV.
As per the Government of India circular, “On reaching the destination, everyone would have to register on the Arogya Setu App. Everyone would be medically screened.
After scrutiny, they will be quarantined for 14 days, either in the hospital or in an institutional quarantine on payment-basis by the concerned state government. The Covid-19 test will be done after 14 days and further action would be taken according to health protocols.”