A dozen new government rescue flights are being deployed to repatriate thousands of Britons stranded in India due to global coronavirus travel restrictions.
More than 3,000 people will be flown home over the next week in addition to 2,000 due to fly back on seven charter flights already launched from Goa, Mumbai and New Delhi.
The first of 19 charters from India arrived at Stansted on Thursday morning, bringing back 317 from Goa.
Flights to the UK are scheduled until April 20:
- Goa – UK: April 14, 16
- Goa (via Mumbai) – UK: April 18
- Amritsar – UK: April 13, 18, 19
- Ahmedabad-UK: April 13, 15
- Hyderabad (via Ahmedabad) – UK: April 17
- Chennai (via Bengaluru) – UK: April 20
- Kolkata (via Delhi) – UK: April 19
- Thiruvananthapuram (via Kochi) – UK: April 15
FCO minister of State for South Asia and the Commonwealth, Lord Tariq Ahmad, said: “We are doing all we can to get thousands of British travellers in India home.
“This is a huge and complex operation which also involves working with the Indian government to enable people to move within India to get on these flights.
“Over 300 people arrived from Goa on Thursday morning, 1,400 more will arrive over the Easter weekend and these 12 flights next week will bring back thousands more.”
The Foreign Office added: “The UK government is working with the airline industry and host governments across the world to help bring back British travellers to the UK as part of the plan announced by the foreign secretary Dominic Raab last week – with up to £75 million available for special charter flights to priority countries, focused on helping the most vulnerable travellers.
“So far, charter flights have returned British travellers from the Philippines, Ecuador, Bolivia, Nepal, Ghana, Tunisia, Algeria and Peru.
“India, as well as South Africa and Peru, is a priority country for the FCO to arrange charter flights from, with a large number of Britons seeking to return and a lack of commercial options – made more challenging by the size of the country and the restrictions on movement that are in place.”