Rs 12,000 to Rs 1 lakh: How much money Indians will need to pay to fly back home

NEW DELHI: Flying back from the US and UK to India will cost Rs 1 lakh and Rs 50,000, respectively, on the special flights being operated by Air India for Indians stranded abroad, from May 7.

The fare for Singapore-Delhi/Mumbai will be Rs 20,000 and Singapore-Bengaluru will be Rs 18,000. Aviation minister H S Puri on Tuesday said the fares set are lower than the cost of operating these special flights – which could be flying out only partially full or empty to bring back Indians stranded abroad.

Puri also said that there are Indians who work abroad or are green card holders and are stranded in India due to due to temporary suspension of commercial flights can also opt to fly out on these flights. “People like them who are willing to pay can fly out on these flights,” he said.

India will begin flights to bring back Indians stranded abroad from Thursday. “In the first week (May 7-13), Air India will operate 64 flights to 12 countries on which we expect to bring back about 15,000 Indians back home. Already about 2 lakh Indians abroad have registered to return to the country. We do not know what is the final number of the Indians who will return. It could be 4 lakh. We will ramp up the flights gradually based on the experience of the first week of operations. States need to be ready (with quarantine facilities) and accordingly we will plan for subsequent weeks. In the first week all flights will be operated by Air India and later private airlines can also contribute towards bringing back stranded Indians,” the aviation minister said.

The 12 countries where flights will operate in the first week are: 6 in Gulf — UAE, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait and Oman. Six others: USA, UK, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Philippines and Singapore.

In US, special flights will go to San Francisco, New York (Newark or EWR), Chicago and Washington. They will bring Indians stranded at these places to Kerala, Delhi, Chennai, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Srinagar, Trichy, Amritsar and Lucknow.

“In the first week, the maximum number of Indians – 3,150 – are expected to return on 15 flights to Kerala from seven countries. This will be followed by about 2,150 returning to Tamil Nadu (Chennai and Trichy) on 11 flights from nine countries. About 1,900 will return to Mumbai on seven flights from six countries,” he said.

Delhi figures will take some time to finalise as authorities are awaiting word on quarantine facilities available. All Indians returning on these flights will need to spend 14 days in either hospital or designated quarantine zones against payment.

“We will keep adding to the number of countries where we operate flights to bring back Indians and the Indian cities we fly them back to in subsequent weeks depending on the demand from those registering to do so,” the ministry said.

A large number of Indians are stranded across the world. India had stopped schedule international passenger flights on March 22 and asked its citizens to stay put where they are till arrangements are made to bring them back.

Priority is being given to the most vulnerable categories such as pregnant women, elderly, people facing medical emergencies or have bereavements or have terminally/seriously ill in their most immediate families in India and stranded tourists.

Medical screening of passengers would be done before taking the flight. Only asymptomatic passengers would be allowed to travel. During the journey, all passengers would have to follow the protocols. On reaching India, everyone will have to register on the Aarogya Setu App and be mandatorily quarantined for 14 days, either in a hospital or in an institutional quarantine on payment-basis, by the concerned state government. Corona test will be done 14 days later and subsequent action will be taken according to health protocols.

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