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Air India to charge commercial fares for stranded Indians

File photo used for representational purpose.

File photo used for representational purpose.   | Photo Credit: Reuters

Airfares high because airlines are financially sick, says Minister

Indian citizens, returning from the Gulf and Southeast Asian countries in the first batch of evacuation flights beginning May 7, will be charged commercial fares of upto ₹100,000 per ticket.

According to Minister of State for Civil Aviation Hardeep Singh Puri, flights from Chicago, San Francisco, Newark and Washington will cost nearly ₹100,000. A flight from London to Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Bengaluru and New Delhi will cost ₹50,000 per passenger, tickets from Dubai will cost ₹13,000 and from Abu Dhabi ₹15,000. Flights from Singapore and Malaysia will cost ₹ 20,000.

Also read | Post-lockdown, Indians in Gulf will be the first to return

The entire operation will be managed by Air India, which will operate 64 flights between May 7 and 13.

Passengers will also have to pay for their quarantine facilities on their return, but a final decision on this will be taken by the State governments, the Minister said.

Also read | Two Navy ships headed to Maldives, two to UAE for evacuation

To a question on why were passengers being charged airfares on par with commercial rates, Mr Puri said, “This is a commercial service. We will not be offering subsidised fares. As it is Air India is surviving on a government subsidy of ₹500 crore to ₹600 crore per month and most private airlines are hand-to-mouth and are loss making.”

He explained that air tickets also factored the cost of a two-way journey as many aircraft will fly from India empty.

As many as 80% of the flights planned by the government to bring back Indians stranded around the world will be sent to the Gulf and Southeast Asia. A large chunk of these flights will be destined for Kerala and Tamil Nadu.

Air India will operate 64 flights between May 7 and 13, Mr. Puri said during a video-conference with journalists. He added that the government will consider roping in private carriers in subsequent phases.

These flights will bring back 14,800 Indians. Fifteen flights will return 3,150 persons to Kerala, 11 flights will bring back 2,150 to Tamil Nadu, 1,750 will return to Telangana in seven flights, 650 will return to Karnataka in three flights, and 3,100 passengers are estimated to return to Delhi in 11 flights.

“This exercise is for those who find themselves distressed and are stranded because either their visas have expired or either they are being deported or either they went to these countries for work and wanted to come back,” the Minister said.

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Printable version | May 28, 2020 6:51:08 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/air-india-to-operate-64-flights-to-12-countries-from-may-7/article31507979.ece

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