COVID19: Air India flight from New Jersey flies back Indian nationals

Over 3,000 cases have so far been recorded in the Andaman and Nicobar islands. Photo: iStock

Over 300 Indian nationals, including the countrys former ambassador to the UN Syed Akbaruddin, stranded in the US due to COVID-19 related international travel restrictions are headed home on the second Air India flight from New Jersey.

From May 9 to May 15, Air India has scheduled seven non-scheduled commercial flights from the US to India facilitating the return of Indian nationals, who could not travel due to COVID-19 restrictions.

The Air India flight departed on May 14 to New Delhi/Hyderabad from the Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey with over 300 passengers. The flight was the sixth non-scheduled commercial flight from the US to India. The first flight took off from San Francisco on Saturday to Mumbai and Hyderabad. Akbaruddin, who retired on April 30, is also heading back to Hyderabad on the May 14 flight from Newark.

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“Home is where the heart is…Farewell to New York & @UN… Heading home, today, with deep gratitude to all who r enabling r return to the lap of Mother India,” Akbaruddin tweeted along with a photograph of an Air India plane along with #VandeBharatMission.

The mission is India’s biggest ever repatriation exercise to bring back Indians from abroad who are unable to travel home due to COVID-19 related international travel restrictions.
India’s Ambassador to the US Taranjit Singh Sandhu tweeted helping our citizens get back home. #VandeBharatMission. Sixth @airindiain evacuation flight from US departs Newark for Delhi and Hyderabad.

The Consulate General of India in New York also said in a tweet that Indian Citizens checking-in for Air India’s Second Evacuation Flight from Newark to Delhi/Hyderabad on May 14, 2020. Shubh Yatra.

“We are really grateful to everything that the Indian government has been doing for us, the Consulate General in New York has been so nice and kind. They have been contacting us, they have been reassuring us that everything is fine in this uncertain period of time. The procedures have been conducted so well, we feel so safe. And we are grateful for everybody over here who has come to help us go home. Thank you so much,” Shreya and Trisha, who are returning back home to New Delhi said.

The first non-scheduled commercial flight from New Jersey to the Indian cities of Mumbai and Ahmedabad flew on May 10.

Apart from the two flights from New Jersey, two flights were scheduled from Chicago on May 11 (to Mumbai and Chennai) and May 15 (Delhi and Hyderabad) and from San Francisco on May 13 to Delhi and Bengaluru. The solo flight from Washington DC on May 12 flew to Delhi and Hyderabad.

All passengers will be required to undergo medical screening before boarding the flight and only asymptomatic passengers will be allowed to travel. All passengers on arrival in India will be medically screened and would have to download and register on Aarogya Setu app.

Further, all passengers will need to undergo a 14-day mandatory quarantine on arrival in India in institutional quarantine facilities on payment basis as per the protocols framed by Government of India.

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