The United Kingdom will operate seven charter flights during this week to evacuate stranded British nationals from Goa, Mumbai and Delhi, its High Commission said on Sunday. Around 20,000 citizens will leave in a weeks-long operation that the U.K. envoy to India described as ‘huge’.
India has around 35,000 U.K. citizens who are stranded as India suspended commercial international air travel on March 22 to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. The High Commission in a press release said 20,000 of them have expressed willingness to leave.
“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 travellers involved, the scale of this operation is huge. The U.K. 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,” said Jan Thompson, Acting High Commissioner.
The first flight will take off from Goa on April 8 and then on April 10 and 12. The flights from Mumbai and Delhi will leave on Apirl 9 and 11. The first few flights are expected to carry the elderly and the most vulnerable. The U.K. evacuated 113 of the most vulnerable citizens from Goa on an Irish aircraft on April 4. The effort will be focused on those citizens who are residents in the U.K. and their family members, the High Commission said.