Thursday, April 29, 2021

Empty flights from India landed every week in Australia, but no one allowed to board

Empty planes have been flying into Australia from India and other countries devastated by an explosion in coronavirus cases.

But Australians desperately pleading to come home from these hotspots have still not been allowed to board the flights.

About 9000 Australians are stranded in India, their plight up in the air after the Morrison government clamped shut the borders to those returning travellers.

Some of these people were copping criticism for staying overseas or choosing to fly away from the relative safety of Australia.

Sympathy levels plummeted further when it was disclosed a man whose COVID-19 case sparked a snap lockdown in Perth last weekend had been at a wedding in India.

But those stuck overseas are in desperate situations, with many urgent and legitimate reasons to travel.

And they have tried and had tried to get back home.

“I didn’t expect to see a day I thought the country I chose to call my home would treat us like cash cows,” said Sydney woman Deepa, whose husband is stuck in India after the death of his father.

“They are happy to bring you in when things go fine. But when things go south, they’re telling us where we belong – which is not with them.”

On Wednesday, Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews said her “heart goes out” to the thousands of Australians stuck in India.

“As soon as it’s possible for us to look at flights to bring them back to Australia, we will be doing all that we can to make that happen,” she told Sky News.

Travel agents have told The New Daily they’ve offered to fly Australians home on flights operating regularly from COVID hotspots – but the government rejected help even before India’s latest virus wave.

In one email seen by TND, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade told operators it was working only with Qantas.

The Indian government, meanwhile, has allowed private companies to charter flights as well as encouraging citizens to book on the national carrier Air India.

Abhishek Sonthalia runs Gaura Travel out of Melbourne.

The company has repatriated 12,000 Indians from Australia under an agreement with Singapore Airlines.

The plane cabins have sat empty during each leg out of Delhi.

Mr Sonthalia said he could have easily brought back stranded Australians on the return flights, with ticket prices of about $1000.

Nirav Kotak runs Travel Crafters out of Sydney. He lost his $2000 deposit to secure a charter flight to bring Australians home, when the federal government put a stop to it.

29/04/21 Cait Kelly/New Daily

To Read the News in full at Source, Click the Headline


Post a Comment