Airlines have tried to set up additional flights to cope with passengers waiting to leave India and overcome Covid’s ban from entering the UK, but have been hit by rebuttals by airports and cancellations.
India, which reported more than 314,000 new coronavirus infections – a daily record for Covid-19 infection globally – is facing a critical shortage of hospital beds and oxygen, and will be added to the UK’s red list starting. from 4 am on Friday, April 23.
This red list restriction prohibits entry to all except British or Irish citizens, or persons with residence rights in the United Kingdom. These arrivals must be quarantined in a hotel for 10 days in the UK at their own expense after leaving India.
Thirty weekly flights are now operating between the UK and India. Heathrow Airport refused to allow additional flights from India before the ban, rejecting requests from airlines to make sure existing pressures at the border were not exacerbated. It is understood that four airlines sought to make eight additional flights.
Heathrow has had long lines recently at border control, and passenger forms are being reviewed for entry requirements amid coronavirus restrictions.
An all-party parliamentary group on the coronavirus heard Tuesday that while the queues in immigration corridors varied, on average there were delays of two to three hours in large places like Heathrow.
At Gatwick airport, some flights from India were scheduled to take place on Thursday, operated by charter firm Enter Air, but were canceled by the airline.
The Civil Aviation Authority confirmed that it had received requests for charter flight permits from India to the UK, but that they had been rejected or withdrawn for not meeting the qualification criteria, the BBC reported.
However, Birmingham Airport accepted an additional flight from India at 6pm on Thursday.
In India, the departure boards of some of the busiest airports in the country included flights to destinations around the world. Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport showed Thursday and Friday flights were scheduled to depart for Dubai, Kabul, Kathmandu, London, Hong Kong, Muscat, Bangkok and Colombo. A flight to Sydney was also included, although its status was unknown.
Mumbai Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport listed scheduled flights for Paris, Kigali, Addis Ababa and Male, as well as Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates and Dammam in Saudi Arabia.
Some countries have tightened their entry restrictions. France said it would impose a 10-day quarantine rule for arrivals from India for the next few days, while Oman said arrivals from India would be suspended from 6 p.m. Saturday.
Quarantine requirements vary by destination. Thailand requires travelers to submit a negative PCR test taken no more than 72 hours before a flight, and for quarantine arrivals at a designated facility for 10 days, or seven days if vaccinated. Dubai requires that people arriving from India have a PCR test no more than 48 hours before departure and a second test on arrival.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism