Passengers on Repatriation Flights to India Unlikely Follow Social Distancing


Clarion India

NEW DELHI –  The passengers at the repatriation flights, which has started from May 7, is not able to follow social distancing as each flight will carry 200 passengers, which represents the full capacity on the aircraft used.

The passengers are being charged around 15,000 rupees per head. Hence, by removing the social distancing requirement, the Indian government is trying to get in more passengers per flight, and thus bring down the ticket rates as well, reported Gulf News.

If social distancing was maintained, it would have meant rates would have shot up to Dh1,400 per passenger and more. This was one of the options authorities sounded out before deciding on the no social distancing move.

Blue-collar workers who lost their jobs will be given priority tickets. “Those who decide to go will want to go at the soonest rather than spending whatever savings they have in hand in the UAE,” said Jamal Abdulnazar, CEO of Cozmo Travel.

Air India Express will operate the first two repatriation flights on May 7 from Abu Dhabi to Kochi and Dubai to Kozhikode. The carrier will deploy an Airbus A320 on the routes, with a capacity of 200 passengers each and single class configuration.

Other repatriation flights will be deployed from the UAE to Chennai, Lucknow, Hyderabad, Delhi and Amritsar between May 7 to 13.

“The larger Air India fleet of Boeing 777s and Dreamliners is expected to be deployed on long-haul routes such as the US, Europe and Australia to evacuate stranded Indian citizens there,” an industry source said.

However, this is the only first phase of evacuation, and private Indian carriers as well UAE airlines could be roped in the later stages.

Commercial flights are set to bring back 14,800 Indians stranded globally in the first week of repatriation. Almost 2,000 Indians will be evacuated from the UAE between 7 May to 14. However, almost 197,000 Indians have registered to be repatriated from the UAE alone.


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