Sunday, April 05, 2020

UK to evacuate its citizens from next week

Panaji: The British government will charter special flights to rescue its citizens stranded in India, including Goa, from next week onwards, the British high commission said on Saturday. While the exact dates and flight timings are yet to be declared, the announcement will bring relief to the several hundred British nationals stranded in the state.
The announcement comes even as European Union nations and Russia continue to operate special flights to repatriate their citizens. On Saturday, the US government hired three buses to shift 63 US nationals stranded in Goa to Mumbai from where they would be flown to the US.
"I recognise that this is a worrying time and you are desperate to get home. Special charter flights from India to UK organised by the British government will start next week. We are still in the process of finalising the details with the Indian government and airlines," said acting British high commissioner Jan Thompson.

Thompson said that once the dates are confirmed, the details would be made public, but in the same breath said that they would not be able to rescue all UK nationals stranded in India at once.

"Next week is just the start. We will not be able to get everyone out immediately," Thompson said in a video message.

UK foreign secretary Dominic Raab and UK transport secretary Grant Shapps continue negotiations with India's external affairs ministry to get a series of charter flights to help the most vulnerable stranded UK nationals, many of them elderly and suffering from ailments.

Meanwhile, many EU nations have allowed British citizens on rescue flights to Frankfurt, Zurich, Dublin, Helsinki and Rome from where they could take onward flights to UK.

Alitalia flew a special flight from Goa to Rome on April 3 and a few seats were offered to UK nationals. On Saturday, a plane filled with Irish and European tourists took off from Goa International Airport for Dublin. The passengers included 100 British tourists.
05/04/20 Newton Sequeira/Times of India

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