International

Air India evacuates 115 stranded Indians from Israel

Photo for representational purposes only

Photo for representational purposes only   | Photo Credit: Akhilesh Kumar

Under Phase I of the Vande Bharat Mission , the government evacuated a total of 6,527 Indians from the Gulf region and from countries like the U.S., the U.K., the Philippines, Bangladesh, Malaysia and the Maldives.

Some 115 Indians, including out of work and broke caregivers, students and pregnant women, were all smiles as they boarded an Air India flight from Ben-Gurion Airport (Tel Aviv) on Tuesday and left for India after being stranded in Israel for more than two months due to the COVID-19 lockdown.

The flight took off at 1 a.m. IST and also carried a Nepalese national married to an Indian, and five Israeli diplomats posted in Delhi.

Out of the 121 passengers aboard flight AI 140, some 85 of them would take a connecting flight to Kochi on Tuesday from Delhi. Most of the Kochi passengers are caregivers who have wished to be quarantined close to their home.

“These are very challenging times and the Vande Bharat Mission flight to India is one of our many efforts to reach out to our community of students and caregivers here in Israel,” India’s ambassador to Israel Sanjeev Singla told PTI at the airport.

“The Ministry of External Affairs, the Civil Aviation Ministry, the Home Ministry, the Israeli Foreign Ministry and the embassy have taken all possible steps to ensure that our nationals stranded and facing hardships for various reasons are able to return home”, Singla said.

The Indian government launched the “Vande Bharat Mission” on May 7 to bring back Indians stranded in various countries due to coronavirus-related restrictions.

Under Phase I of the mission, the government evacuated a total of 6,527 Indians from the Gulf region and from countries like the U.S., the U.K., the Philippines, Bangladesh, Malaysia and the Maldives.

A specially arranged Air India evacuation flight brought 88 passengers from Delhi to Tel Aviv, almost all of them Israelis. The national carrier which has stepped up to support the government mission to help bring back stranded Indians has also kept the price of the tickets reasonable.

Air India’s country Head Pankaj Tiwari told PTI that the airline even took pains to adjust the fares of those who had bought tickets through its sales office and were looking for a refund or adjustment.

The Indian embassy in Tel Aviv in an announcement on May 15 said that it was looking into the possibility of facilitating the return of interested Indian nationals from Israel, who could not travel earlier due to COVID-19-related international travel restrictions.

Most of those who provided details and expressed willingness to pay for the ticket and quarantine boarded the flight today, the embassy officials said. Almost all the embassy staff was present at the airport to see off the passengers and also distributed a package with gloves and masks for their onward journey.

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Printable version | Jul 5, 2020 4:09:06 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/air-india-evacuates-115-stranded-indians-from-israel/article31676097.ece

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