Melbourne: India will operate seven special flights starting May 21 to bring back Indians stranded in Australia due to the coronavirus travel restrictions, the Indian High Commission in Canberra announced on Wednesday.
In an official notification, the High Commission confirmed that special Air India flights will repatriate Indians under the government's 'Vande Bharat Mission'.
''In the first phase of this Mission, Air India will operate the following special flights from Australia to various cities in India from May 21st to 28th 2020,'' the notification said. It said that as the seats were limited, passengers with the most compelling cases were being given priority.
If the shortlisted passenger failed to purchase the tickets within 24 hours of intimation by the mission, it would then be allotted to the next passenger on the waiting list.
The travel cost would be borne by the passengers and the High Commission would intimate by email the shortlisted passengers for the flights. All passengers would be required to undergo medical screening at the time of boarding the flight and only asymptomatic passengers will be allowed to travel, the notification said.
All passengers on arrival in India will be medically screened and will need to undergo a 14-day mandatory quarantine in isolation facilities as per the protocols framed by the Indian government.
In addition, if needed, COVID-19 test may be required to be done after 14 days and further action would be taken according to applicable health protocols.
Apart from this, travellers have also been mandated to sign and submit an undertaking cum identity bond before boarding, confirming their readiness to follow instructions of the relevant authorities and their consent to be repatriated.
IT professional Varun Malik from Brisbane, who has registered himself with the mission, said he was desperately waiting to secure a seat so that he can reunite with his family and take care of his parents who were not in good health.
He said that hundreds of Indians were currently lined up to go back home following the COVID-19 crisis.
The Indian community in Australia is comprised of nearly seven lakh people. India is one of the top sources of skilled immigrants to Australia. Approximately 90,000 students are studying in Australian universities.