Sri Lankan Airlines will operate three repatriation flights from two Indian cities to bring back stranded citizens. One flight from Amritsar and two from Coimbatore will depart for Colombo on Thursday and Friday, respectively. These flights come as more countries begin repatriation efforts from India, which has banned all international flights indefinitely.
Bringing back stranded citizens
These three repatriation flights are being operated to rescue Sri Lankan students studying in India. India is also home to approximately 200,000 Sri Lankans, a majority of whom live in the southern state of Tamil Nadu (where Coimbatore is located). The flights will be essential to the many citizens stuck in India and we could possibly see more flights in the future.
Prior to the coronavirus, Sri Lankan Airlines flew regular services to both Amritsar and Coimbatore, making these flights slightly easier. Sri Lankan is operating flights from multiple countries to bring back stranded students and pilgrims from countries such as Pakistan and Nepal, as well as the city of Wuhan.
More countries operating rescue flights
Sri Lanka is one of many countries that are flying repatriation flights from India. Since the flight ban was imposed numerous repatriation flights have taken place, with more in the works. The US, UK, Japan, New Zealand, and UAE are just some of the countries operating these flights. In addition to this, Air India has also flown dozens of repatriation flights to Europe among other places.
The main reason for so many repatriation flights is India’s flight ban and the high number of foreigners in India. India imposed a one week ban on international flights on 22nd March and has since then extended this ban. India is also home to millions of foreigners from dozens of countries, complicating efforts and resulting in hundreds of flights.
It is to be noted that India has not yet set out plans to repatriate its own citizens. The Indian diaspora is the largest in the world, with millions of citizens and many wanting to return home. India did quickly evacuate citizens from the virus hotspots of Wuhan, Milan, and Tehran, but since the situation has worsened in India, the country has refrained from more of these flights.
Sri Lanka’s repatriation efforts will provide relief to the thousands of citizens stranded in India. The one flight from Amritsar and two from Coimbatore will operate today and tomorrow respectively and those aboard these flights can expect extensive medical screening, and possible quarantine, once on the ground in Colombo.
Since the lockdown, nearly 40,000 people have been flown back from India on various repatriation flights. The coming weeks and months will see more of these flights, as the number of cases in India continues to rise. Anyone stranded outside their home countries should contact their embassies for assistance and details about any repatriation flights.
Are you waiting for a repatriation flight to take you home? What are your thoughts on these rescue flights? Let us know in the comments below.