Sunday, June 14, 2020

India repatriates 227 stranded citizens from Finland, Denmark, Estonia and Latvia

As many as 227 Indian nationals stranded in Finland, Denmark, Estonia and Latvia have been flown back home under the third phase of the mega evacuation exercise Vande Bharat.

National carrier Air India on Friday evening operated its first passenger flight ever from the Finnish capital city Helsinki, bringing back the Indian citizens stranded in the four European countries due to the international travel restrictions following the coronavirus outbreak.

Air India's Country Manager in Israel, Pankaj Tiwari, whose office coordinated the repatriation flight told PTI that the AI 1184 flight landed in New Delhi on Saturday.

"The repatriation provided immense relief to stranded Indians, especially those who had come to Finland as tourists, business travellers, senior citizens who had been visiting their children and students who finished their academic year," India's Ambassador to Finland Vani Rao told PTI.

"Among them were a couple who came to Finland for their honeymoon and got stuck for three months. Several are returning to India for medical attention and family emergencies," Rao added.

While most of the stranded passengers were from Finland, 15 were from Estonia, some from Denmark and one from Latvia.

The Air India flight also brought to Finland 168 people, including 15 infants, who were stranded in India.

The special flight was a massive effort and a challenging one because Air India does not have any operations in Finland and all the logistics and ground support had to be handled by the concerned Finnish operators and was managed remotely by the Air India office in Tel Aviv, Rao said.

"This operation was very special as it was the first ever passenger flight from Finland to India by Air India. Another first was the scale at which thermal screening was carried out at the Helsinki airport -- in the last 15 years a thermal screening operation of so many passengers was not done in Helsinki on a single day," she said.
13/06/20 PTI/Telegraph
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