Although remaining on the UK’s red list for travel, Air India is still flying to the UK and has today announced additional flights. The airline has been flying to the UK since May 1st. Now it has planned five additional return flights between London Heathrow and Bengaluru beginning from May 16th. In addition, the airline has also scheduled more flights connecting London to Mumbai.
On April 23rd, the UK government announced India had joined the red list of countries, effectively preventing travel between the two countries. With increasing numbers of COVID-19 cases as well as new variants of the virus, it is likely India won’t be coming off the red list for a while.
However, this hasn’t stopped one airline from scheduling flights. Air India announced today on its Twitter account that it will operate 10 more indirect flights connecting the two countries. The first flight will leave Heathrow for Bengaluru on the 16th, returning the following day on the 17th. The airline will operate the same flights on the 18th and 19th, 23rd and 24th, 25th and 26th, and finally on the 30th and 31st.
The airline is also planning additional flights from London Heathrow to Mumbai. Flights will begin on May 17th and will operate daily until the 31st, excluding the 18th, 23rd, 25th, and 30th. Bookings for flights to both destinations are open, and anyone who had previously booked these flights (before they were canceled) will need to reconfirm their booking.
New flights thanks to high demand
But these aren’t the airline’s first flights since going on the red list. After canceling all flights from the end of April onwards in response to the UK government’s reclassification of India, Air India has been planning to get back the skies as soon as possible. Previously it announced a slew of flights starting from May 1st. The airline has operated flights either to or from the UK every day of May so far. Current destinations in India are Delhi, Mumbai, and Bengaluru.
Clearly, there is enough demand to offer more flights, hence the new announcement for additional flights. The airline is making it clear that the responsibility to meet entry requirements in both countries is down to the passenger. This is stopping people from booking. Although the UK government recommends avoiding India, Air India’s flights are clearly popular enough to demand more.
How is this possible?
Technically, people arriving in the UK from India can enter the country, they just have to abide by strict rules. Only British or Irish citizens or people with a right to reside in the UK can enter the country from India. Even then, all travelers must spend 10 days in a government-approved quarantine facility, usually a hotel, and submit to two mandatory PCR testing.
Every passenger entering India from the UK must pay for and submit to a PCR test upon arrival in India. A negative result means seven days of isolation in a government unit followed by another week in isolation at home. A positive result means stricter isolation protocol. While this feasibly makes it possible for anyone to enter India, the country is not issuing tourist visas at the moment.
What do you think of Air India’s flights? Are they providing a vital service for people looking to return home? Or should they cancel flights while on the UK’s red list? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.