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6 flights scheduled to bring home Canadians stuck in India due to COVID-19 travel ban

Six flights to repatriate some of the 15,000 Canadians passport holders stranded in India due to the COVID-19 pandemic are being organized with the first scheduled to leave Delhi on April 4.

An email from Global Affairs Canada India Consular says the cost per ticket is estimated at $2,900, available on a first-come-first-served basis.

The special flights will connect through London, U.K., and are available to Canadian citizens and their immediate family members who are permanent residents of Canada, who hold a valid permanent resident card and who will be accompanying the Canadian citizen on the flight.

Nav Jhawer has applied to get his mother and father home on one of the flights after three previous return bookings fell through as a total travel and airspace lockdown was imposed by the Indian government in response to the spread of the novel coronavirus. 

“I’ve been worried a fair amount,” he said. “I said to them the most important thing is you have to keep yourself healthy so you can get on a flight.” 

Jhawer says mother Parkash, 66 and father Surinder, 72, of Campbell River on Vancouver Island are snowbirds who spend winters in the Punjab in northern India.

Costly flight

He says the $2,900 price tag for the flight back to Canada is steep but he is more worried about those who may not be able to afford it. 

“At the end of the day, I made the decision that my parents need to be home,” he said. “But think about a family of four who are already stressed or with parents who could be laid off from work.”

The thousands of Canadians stuck in India amid a COVID-19 lockdown are starting to lose hope, with no repatriation flights planned to get them out. 1:56

One flight per day has been scheduled to leave Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi starting April 4 through to April 7.

Two flights will depart from Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport in Mumbai, the first on April 5 and another on April 7. 

Jhawer says he’s waiting to hear the details of how his parents will make the eight hour trip to the airport in Delhi if their application is accepted, considering the sweeping travel ban that’s in place. 

“At this point, I would hope all those little pieces have been thought through,” he said. 

CBC has reached out to Global Affairs Canada for more information on the repatriation flights but hadn’t heard back at the time of publication.

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