Air India opens bookings for foreigners, visa holders on outbound repatriation flights


File photo of an Air India aircraft.

File photo of an Air India aircraft.

Air India has opened bookings for eligible foreign nationals and valid visa holders of the UK, the USA and Singapore for outbound repatriation flights that will be operated between May 7 and May 14 under the Vande Bharat mission, officials said.

Foreign nationals or valid visa holders will be charged the same fare as Indian nationals who want a seat on the inbound repatriation flights, they said.

For all flights between India and the USA under the Vande Bharat mission, Air India is charging a fixed fare of Rs 1 lakh per passenger.

For flights between India and Singapore, the charge is Rs 18,000-20,000 per passenger, and it is Rs 50,000 per person for India-UK flights.

On Tuesday, the Ministry of Home Affairs had clarified that a person who has an Overseas Indian Citizenship (OCI) card, or citizenship of a foreign country, or a valid visa of more than one year of that country, or the green card of that country can travel on repatriation flights leaving India under the Vande Bharat mission.

Air India will be conducting 64 flights to 12 countries between May 7 and May 13 to bring back approximately 15,000 Indians stranded due to the coronavirus-induced lockdown, Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri had announced on Tuesday.

However, some flights have been delayed and therefore, this set of 64 flights will be operated between May 7 and May 14, the airline officials said.

On Wednesday, an Indian businessman and his cook landed at Delhi airport from Lusaka in Zambia in a plane that was supposed to come without any passengers, senior government officials said.

The private chartered aircraft was scheduled to come empty and take around 40 Zambian nationals to Lusaka in a repatriation flight, they added.

“We had not permitted any incoming passengers. We will seek explanation from the airline (private operator) as to how it happened. BOI (Bureau of Immigration) has a very stringent protocol for dealing with such deviations, which must have been acted upon,” said a senior official of aviation regulator DGCA.

It is not clear if the businessman and his cook were deported or sent to a quarantine facility within India.

India has been under a lockdown since March 25 to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. All scheduled commercial passenger flights have been suspended during the lockdown.

However, cargo flights, medical evacuation flights and special flights permitted by Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) have been allowed to operate during this time.