Air India evacuation flight

Air India flights from May 21 will bring relief for Indian nationals in Australia

Melbourne, May 8: Seven Air India evacuation flights will fly from Melbourne and Sydney into 6 Indian cities, according to confirmed sourcesThree flights from Sydney and four from Melbourne will all include stop-overs at Delhi, before flying on to Amritsar (two), and one each to Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Cochin and Hyderabad.

Air India details are:

21 May              Sydney                 Delhi

22 May              Melbourne          Delhi              Amritsar

23 May              Melbourne          Delhi              Bangalore

23 May              Sydney                 Delhi            Amritsar

25 May              Melbourne          Delhi              Cochin

25 May              Sydney                 Delhi            Ahmedabad

28 May              Melbourne          Delhi              Hyderabad

While fares are yet to be finalised, it is expected that the same flights may be able to carry Australians stuck in India to assist with costs from blowing out.

All Indian nationals in Australia have had to register with the Indian High Commission. Those who manage to secure a seat on these flights to India will be quarantined for 14 days in India upon arrival.

This news comes as a relief for almost 68,000 Indian nationals who were visitor visa holders to Australia. Stranded abroad, they were hoping for a safe flight home.

According to the official figures, India’s External Affairs Ministry had received more than 68,000 requests from citizens wanting to return home to India, many being international students and migrant workers stranded in Australia.

For many, who were visiting family in Australia, their trip turned into an endless cycle of anxiety and uncertainty, thanks to COVID-19 pandemic.

Earlier, the Indian government had announced that it would facilitate the return of Indian nationals stranded abroad on compelling grounds in a phased manner from May 7.

Indians requiring priority medical assistance

About 5,500 registrants have requested priority assistance for medical emergencies. Those requiring medical attention have suffered immensely, running from pillar to post to facilitate their return home.

In a statement, the government declared that non-scheduled commercial flights and naval ships would be arranged for Indian nationals in distress, stranded abroad.

“The travel would be arranged by aircraft and naval ships. The Standard Operating Protocol (SOP) has been prepared in this regard,” the statement read.

Other guidelines from the Indian government stated that all passengers will be subject to a pre-departure medical screening and only asymptomatic people would be allowed to board the flights.

“During the journey, all these passengers would have to follow the protocols, such as the health protocols, issued by the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Civil Aviation,” the statement read.

All passengers were required to download the Indian government’s “Aarogya Setu” mobile application.

“After scrutiny, they would be quarantined for 14 days, either in a hospital or in an institutional quarantine on payment-basis, by the concerned state government.

“COVID test would be done after 14 days and further action would be taken according to health protocols,” the statement said.

International Students

Meanwhile, international students stranded in Melbourne are pleading with the federal government for financial aid, stressing that thousands are “not rich” and should be treated the same as Australian citizens during the crisis.

However, Universities have announced financial aid for international students, while the Victorian government has also announced a $45 million fund to support international students in Victoria facing hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The International Student Emergency Relief Fund, announced last month, will provide a payment of up to A$1,100 for vulnerable international students who have lost their job or had a significant reduction to their employment and are facing financial hardship.

The fund complements the range of relief programs offered by Victorian universities, education providers and existing government support.

International students from Victoria’s tertiary education providers including Universities, TAFEs, private Vocational Education and Training providers and English language colleges are all eligible to apply for the hardship payment. However those who need more help, may consider taking advantage of Air India evacuation flights commencing next week.

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