The UK government has, following weeks of uncertainty for the tens of thousands of British nationals in the country, announced the first 7 repatriation flights out of India. Having already committed to supporting charter operations with a £75 million investment, the newest announcement comes as a relief to many.
There are an estimated 35,000 British nationals in India, 20,000 of which have urged the government to launch such flights. On 4 April, 113 ‘of the most vulnerable British nationals’ flew back from Goa on an Irish flight.
The UK government will offer services to Mumbai, Delhi and Goa between 8 and 12 April. This includes flights to Goa on 8, 10 and 12 April and to Mumbai and New Delhi on 9 and 11 April.
Acting High Commissioner to India, Jan Thompson, said: “We know how worrying the past few weeks have been for British nationals in India. I hope this announcement will bring relief, especially to those in greatest need. Due to the large numbers of British travellers involved, the scale of this operation is huge. 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.”
India has seen huge growth within the aviation industry, with the long-haul sector particularly busy with flights to the United Kingdom. Since the demise of Jet Airways, capacity has continued to rise with Virgin Atlantic having taken advantage of this and boosting its services to India.
With the coronavirus outbreak, however, this growth is becoming ‘undone’ in some sense. We’ve seen a number of airlines look to their respective governments for financial aid, reportedly including the likes of Virgin Atlantic. What’s to come for the industry is unknown, but this crisis is predicted to have long-term effects especially for aviation.