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A spokesperson from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) has confirmed that a total of eight flights are scheduled to depart from India in the next two weeks.
The news amends an announcement last week that expected one repatriation flight from India every 7 to 9 days.
With an expected capacity of around 150 travellers per flight, this could mean that 1,200 Australians will be able to return by 4 June. This could mean about 25% of Australians stranded in India can be safely back by end of June.
Since the announcement of a two-week travel ban on returnees from India, at least three Australian citizens or permanent citizens have died in the country’s devastating new COVID wave.
Most recently, it was reported that 51-year-old Sunil Khanna passed away while trying to bring his parents to Australia next month.
“DFAT’s highest priority at this time is helping vulnerable Australians overseas,” the DFAT spokesperson told Indian Link. “Offers of seats on facilitated commercial flights from India are made to Australians registered with DFAT, based on vulnerability.”
During a visit to the Shri Shiva Vishnu Temple recently, Prime Minister Morrison confirmed that the number of Australians keen to return from India had increased.
“Our consular staff are providing support right now to roughly 11,000 Australians who are registered to return to Australia, including 970 who we know are particularly vulnerable,” he said.
Almost 20,000 Australians have returned from India since the beginning of border closures in March 2020.
The second government facilitated flight back from India since the travel ban is scheduled to depart tomorrow, 22 May, from New Delhi to Darwin.
Other commercial flights are also being facilitated. An Australian stranded in India has told Indian Link that he has received a seat on a repatriation flight on Qatar Airways on 4 June from New Delhi via Qatar, to Adelaide where he will quarantine. His preferred destination of Melbourne has an earlier flight of 1 June but that flight is booked.
Travellers are expected to follow a careful and rigorous pre-department testing regime which includes two tests, a COVID-19 Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test and a Rapid Antigen test.
New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia have also indicated they will assist by receiving passengers from India.
As India’s COVID crisis rages on, it seems the Morrison government is becoming more serious on bringing back stranded Australians from the COVID-devastated country and the ability of all Australian states, other than Tasmania, has allowed repatriation of larger numbers.
For more details on flights from India, please contact the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) on 1300 555 135 (in Australia) or +61 262 613 305 (overseas).
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