The UK Government has chartered 12 more flights to bring home more than 3,000 stranded Britons from India. The Foreign Office organised seven flights that have been arranged to run between April 8 and April 12 but now even more have been organised.
Many Britons were left stranded abroad after the coronavirus outbreak forced nations all over the world to put travel restrictions in place.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s latest rules which were updated on April 8 said that British people cannot fly unless it is essential.
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Their website reads: “The FCO advised British people against all non-essential travel worldwide.
“This applies for an indefinite period due to unprecedented international border closures and other restrictions.
“All countries may restrict travel without notice.”
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Flights: The UK Government has chartered 12 more flights to bring home more than 3,000 Britons
Flights: Many Britons were left stranded abroad after the coronavirus outbreak
A £75million operation has been put in place by the Foreign Office to rescue Britons from destinations where commercial routes have been cancelled.
But India has proven to be a more tricky task with travellers complaining that waiting lists were long and fares were expensive.
New flights are set to leave various destinations including Goa, Amritsar, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Chennai, Kolkata and Thiruvananthapuram between April 13 and April 20.
Bookings for the flights opened today.
The Foreign Office’s Minister for South Asia and the Commonwealth, Lord Tariq Ahmad of Wimbledon, said that more than 1,000 people will be arriving from India over the weekend.
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He said: “We are doing all we can to get thousands of British travellers in India home.
“This is a huge and complex operation which also involves working with the Indian government to enable people to move within India to get on these flights.
“Over 300 people arrived from Goa on Thursday morning, 1,400 more will arrive over the Easter weekend, and these 12 flights next week will bring back thousands more.”
Shadow Foreign Secretary Lisa Nandy also added that getting Britons home from abroad is a priority.
Flights: Bookings for the flights opened today
She said: “It is crucial that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office continues to function effectively during this period. This is a global crisis and demands a global response.
“In addition, the swift and safe repatriation of UK citizens currently stranded overseas must be an absolute priority.
“There is growing concern that thousands of people are not able to access the support and advice they urgently need to return home.
“They must not be left to face this crisis alone.”
Angry Britons have taken to Twitter to express their anger at the cost of flights back from India.
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One user said: “There was notice given that India may go into lock down and my relatives booked four flights home. Each one was cancelled by the airline before India was locked down. People have lost £1000s trying to get home and still paying for the repatriation flights too!”
Another said: “Humanitarian crisis will unfold shortly in India.
“We need daily flights out, the repatriation strategy is too little, too slow. Once you register, still no guarantee to be allocated on the flights out, approx 900 seats out of thousands stranded.”
While another said that people were arriving back from India and allegedly not having their temperatures checked for coronavirus.
They said: “My parents arrived back at Stansted from India on the first repatriation flight, no one took their temperature, they were given no advice on isolation etc. After all these weeks our airports are still not checking people like other countries.”