Air India flight wins rare praise from Pakistan ATC

Cheryl Sanders
April 6, 2020

On 4 April, 113 of the most vulnerable British nationals left Goa on an Irish flight. As per the United Kingdom high commission, there are around 35,000 British nationals now stranded in India but just over 20,000 have conveyed their willingness to return to the United Kingdom at the earliest.

With commercial aviation severely curtailed, the government last week offered up to £75 million to enable special charter flights to priority countries to bring back United Kingdom residents.

Air India operated two flights - a Boeing-777 and a 787 - carrying evacuated Europeans stuck in India along with relief materials from Mumbai and New Delhi.

Foreign Office Minister of State, Lord (Tariq) Ahmad of Wimbledon said: "The UK is working around the clock to support the large numbers of British travellers who wish to return to the UK from India and around the world". The UK Government continues to work hard with our Indian counterparts in New Delhi and London to arrange a safe journey back for as many people as possible. These seven charter flights are for United Kingdom travellers who normally reside in the country and their direct dependants. Direct route of Iran airspace is strictly reserved for their defence purposes only and is rarely accessible by airlines of other countries.

"The flight was scheduled to reach Frankfurt at 0915 hours but it landed at 0835 hours", Air India said. This is particularly unusual as Iran gave a direct routing for about 1000 miles a privilege guess enjoyed as special flights, in all especially in the recent tense situation in the Iranian airspace. "With more airlines signing up it should mean more flights available but also a fairer deal for travellers by providing more flexibility over tickets and costs".

The two special Air India flight flew out stranded European and Canadian citizens from Mumbai. Given the huge numbers within Punjab, especially elderly and those fast running out of medicine, surely that should have been actioned.

The FCO also confirmed on April 5 that its advice against all but essential travel will continue indefinitely amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The High Commission spokesperson said that ensuring the safety and well-being of British nationals is the top priority of the United Kingdom government, and that the High Commission will continue to provide consular support to any British nationals who remain in India and require assistance.

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