Monday, May 04, 2020

Three Qantas flights to pick up Aussies stranded in India

Three Qantas flights will this week rescue more than 500 Australians stranded in India by coronavirus travel restrictions but hundreds more remain in limbo.
The three flights, costing $2300 a ticket and each carrying 188 passengers, sold out within about 20 minutes.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has previously said 6660 Australians in India had registered for assistance. More than 2700 Australians have so far returned home on nine flights organised by private groups through airlines including Lion Air, with help from DFAT officials and the Indian government.
This week's rescue flights are the first to India organised by the Australian government and operated by Qantas. Two will leave Delhi on Thursday and arrive in Melbourne and Sydney on Friday morning, while a third will leave on Saturday and arrive in Sydney on Sunday morning.
The confirmation comes after The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age last month revealed Qantas was discussing emergency flights to India with the government.
Qantas pilot David Summergreene, who will fly the first plane to Sydney, said it was an honour to rescue Australians stranded during the COVID-19 crisis.
Mr Summergreene, the first officer, flew an earlier repatriation flight to Lima to pick up Australians in Peru. He also operated a rescue flight out of Denpasar after the 2002 Bali bombings.
"I have a job to do which is to fly an airplane but part of me wants to be on the apron to watch them get on the aircraft and see that sense of relief that they're finally getting home," he said.
"After the first Bali bombing, we did evacuation flights out of Denpasar and that's something to be honest with you I'll take to the grave - that ability to turn up with a Qantas aircraft and getting those people on board and getting them home."
With Qantas not normally operating commercial flights to India, Mr Summergreene said there would be a lot of extra planning for the repatriation flight.
04/05/20 Anthony Galloway/Brisbane Times
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