With the dire COVID-19 situation in India, some countries have outright banned direct flights from Indian cities in an effort to slow the spread of the disease. At the same time, however, a few countries are making efforts to repatriate their citizens stranded in India as a result of canceled services and disruptions amid the worsening crisis.
Bringing citizens home
According to Bloomberg, international and domestic airlines have been laying on additional flights out of India in an effort to repatriate stranded citizens and residents.
On the domestic airline side, Air India is increasing its US flight frequency, moving up from 29 to 32 flights per week starting on May 11th.
Meanwhile, it appears that South Koreans stranded in India will be getting assistance from the airlines of their home country. According to CAPA, both Korean Air and Asiana are working with regulators to plan charter flights to repatriate South Korean citizens in the coming weeks. Both airlines had suspended their regular schedules due to the worsening situation.
The United States, while not arranging any special flights, is urging citizens to “take advantage of commercial transportation options.” The following notice was posted on the US Embassy in India website:
“US citizens who wish to depart India should take advantage of commercial transportation options. Fourteen direct flights between India and the United States are offered daily, with additional flight options available to U.S. citizens via transfers in Paris and Frankfurt.”
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a Level 4 Travel Health Notice with the Department of State issuing a Level 4 Travel Advisory advising against all travel to India. Level 4 is the highest and most serious level of warning.
Australians, among others, left out
News of plans to repatriate South Korean citizens stands in stark contrast to Australia’s actions thus far.
On Tuesday, the country put flights from India on hold until mid-May. As we reported recently, this has impacted up to eight planned Qantas repatriation flights from India, exacerbating problems for Australians stranded in the country.
Australia’s strict limits on international flights has led to a massive backlog of Australian citizens and residents waiting for scarce seats back down under. The country has also imposed interstate travel restrictions in reaction to outbreaks that have occurred. These efforts are likely the reason the country has one of the lowest rates of new cases in the world, allowing for a travel bubble with New Zealand.
The Canadian government has suspended direct flights to and from India while allowing indirect travel from India. However, this will require a negative test result to be produced in the country of transit.
Do you think more countries and/or airlines will follow the lead of the two South Korean carriers and arrange special flights? Do you think that they should? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.