By Gavin Gibbon
Two flights have been scheduled to leave the UAE on Thursday
Two repatriation flights to India are to take off from the UAE on Thursday (May 7).
It comes as the Indian Government revealed it would be giving priority to citizens in the Gulf who are “distressed” as part of imminent evacuation plans.
One flight will operate from Abu Dhabi to Kochi and the other from Dubai to Kozhikode.
Priority will be given to pregnant women, the elderly and people who are in need of medical treatment in their home states in India.
Diplomatic authorities are contacting people on the passenger lists directly.
The cost of the tickets and other conditions, for travel including quarantine requirements after reaching India, and health requirements to board the flight will be confirmed in due course and will have to be accepted by each passenger.
Details of further flights to India will be announced in the coming days.
A statement issued by the Consulate said: “We seek patience and cooperation from everyone as the Government of India undertakes this massive task of repatriation of Indian nationals. Given that the Embassy/Consulate have received almost 200,000 registrations for travelling back, it will take time for all people to be accommodated on these flights.”
The Ministry of Home Affairs in the UAE has made it clear that it "will be facilitating the return of Indian nationals stranded abroad on compelling grounds in a phased manner" - only those Indians who have "compelling" reasons to return to India will be evacuated.
According to the Home Ministry, Indians who cannot afford to pay for a repatriation flight are likely to be evacuated by ships.
India has sent three naval ships to evacuate citizens in the UAE and Maldives.
A defence spokesperson said INS Jalashwa, deployed off the Mumbai coast, along with INS Magar, diverted for the Maldives on Monday night.
While INS Shardul, a Southern Naval Command ship, diverted to Dubai to evacuate expatriates.
The three ships will return to Kochi, he said.