Coronavirus Pandemic: Air India to fly 270 stranded Israelis back to Tel Aviv

New Delhi: After rescuing several stranded Indian nationals from China and Italy, national carrier Air India has now been assigned the task to fly back more than 270 Israelis stranded in the country to Tel Aviv on Friday and bring home Indians struck there.

“We are doing such flights on the request from the government (external affairs ministry),” a government official said on condition of anonymity.

The stranded Israeli nationals will be flown from Delhi in a Boeing 777 aircraft, the person said. The number of Indian nationals to be brought back from Israel could not be ascertained.

Air India has been at the forefront in the evacuation of stranded Indians abroad. It did the first such flights to Wuhan in China to bring back stuck Indian students.

The national carrier, which the government plans to sell completely, was also instrumental in evacuating Indians – who were stuck in Italy because India barred commercial passenger flights from Italy and other countries to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus – earlier this week.

Air India will also be assigned the responsibility to evacuate about 20,000 Indians stranded in Saudi Arabia, the official said, adding, “No decision has been taken yet in this regard.”

Meanwhile, the country’s largest airline, IndiGo, on Wednesday offered its aircraft and crew for moving medicine, equipment and relief materials to different cities.

“The airline has expressed support to contribute in the ferry supply of medicine, equipment, and relief samples from one part of the country to another,” said a statement by the airline.

In a letter to aviation minister Hardeep Singh Puri, IndiGo chief executive Ronojoy Dutta said, “I know you must be facing major logistical challenges in moving medicine, equipment and relief supplies from one part of the country to another. We at IndiGo would be extremely proud to be associated with this critical life-saving activity at this hour of great need for our nation.”

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