Air India will operate eight more repatriation flights from Sydney and Melbourne as part of the third phase of repatriation from Australia between July 3 and July 14.
Over 2,300 more Indian nationals will now have a chance to return home as part of the third phase of Vande Bharat Mission from Australia.
Given the high number of Indian nationals who continue to remain stranded in Australia, the Indian government today announced that it will operate eight more flights, four each from Sydney and Melbourne that are slated to operate between July 3 and July 14.
- Indian government announces eight more flights from Australia as part of phase 3
- Flights will operate from Sydney and Melbourne between July 3 and July 14
- Nearly 7,000 Indian nationals are currently awaiting repatriation from Australia
Announcing the new phase on Twitter, the Indian High Commission in Canberra today wrote that the booking for these flights will open from 1630 hours (AEST) on Sunday, June 28.
Here are the details of the flights in phase 3:
'No shortlisting and no registration for phase 3'
While all of these flights will land in capital city New Delhi, two will further depart for Mumbai, another two for Chennai, two for Visakhapatnam and two for Hyderabad, as per the latest schedule of phase 3 of the Vande Bharat Mission.
In an interview with SBS Punjabi, Consulate General of India to Melbourne, Raj Kumar said Indian nationals and OCI cardholders who intend to return to India can book their flights directly through the Air India website.
He said High Commission will not be conducting any shortlisting for phase 3.
"People wanting to return on these special flights can directly book their tickets through the Air India website. We will not be conducting any shortlisting of passengers as we have done for the first two phases for these flights," said Mr Kumar.
He added that these flights will be available on "first-come, first-serve basis."
"There is no need for people to register with the High Commission or the consulates for this phase. Just go on the website, click on the registration link available on the website and book your flights," added Mr Kumar.
He said that he expects that people will be repatriated at fares similar to those which were offered by Air India during the first two phases.
"I believe there will not be any change in the airfares in the third phase," said Mr Kumar.
'Desperate to return home'
Melbourne-based international student Dhawal Sheth who is desperate to return home said he is hoping that he would get “third time lucky.”
“I came here to pursue a postgraduate degree in finance on February 22. But as soon it began, the university switched to online classes and that is when I decided that it would be better for me to return to India in the current circumstances,” he said.
The 22-year-old who was forced to take a tough decision to get his enrolment cancelled said the current model of remote learning is not worth the tuition fee he was willing to pay prior to the pandemic.
“This degree is quite expensive and to be honest I had not signed up for online classes. I decided to study in Australia because of the on-campus learning experience. If I must study online, I’d rather do it from the comfort of my home,” said Mr Sheth.
Darshana Trivedi who had come to visit her daughter in Sydney in September last year is one of nearly 7,000 Indian nationals who registered their interest to return to India on these special flights.
The 60-year-old who suffers from multiple age-related health conditions said she has been living without her prescribed medicines for the past three months.
“High Commission should have shortlisted us for the earlier phases. Now I am hoping I would be able to book my flight in the upcoming phase and return home at the earliest,” said Ms Trivedi.
As of June 26, more than 145,000 Indian nationals, including OCI cardholders have returned to India on 725 flights since May 6, as part of the Indian government's Vande Bharat Mission.
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