As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, the national carrier Air India and Indian Navy have been asked to be on standby with their aircraft and warships for the mass evacuation of Indians from Gulf countries. As per sources, the majority of the Indians who are stranded in the Gulf countries are labourers.
Government sources also stressed that "many Indians have contacted the embassies through social media and emails, showing a willingness to return to their homes.
"We are assessing the scenario and finding the plan to evacuate Indians from the Gulf countries. We have asked Air India and Indian Navy for the detailed evacuation plan," top government sources told ANI.
The Indian Navy, in their detailed evacuation plan, submitted to the government, has mentioned that "the Indian Navy can evacuate 1,500 Indians from the Gulf countries in three warships of the Navy." The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has already started consultations with the States and Union Territories (UT) for the necessary arrangements starting the process.
According to sources, senior officials from the Ministry of Civil Aviation had given brief note before a Group of Ministers that, "India has over 500 aircraft and the Indian aviation is capable of the evacuation of Indians from the Gulf nations." Meanwhile, India has suspended all kinds of travel till May 3 as the country continues to be under coronavirus-induced lockdown.
Meanwhile, the government carrier Air India announced it has opened bookings on select domestic and international routes from May 4 and June 1, respectively. Earlier, it had stopped accepting bookings on all domestic flights for travel till May 3, 2020, and on all international flights for travel till May 31, 2020. On April 3, Air India had said it has stopped bookings, both domestic and international, till the end of the month.
"Bookings for select domestic flights for travel from May 4, 2020, and for international flights for travel from June 1, 2020, onwards are open," a notification on Air India's website said.
(With inputs from ANI)