India: Coronavirus

Foreign and Commonwealth Office written question – answered on 22nd July 2020.

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Photo of Tan Dhesi Tan Dhesi Shadow Minister (Transport)

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, pursuant to the Answer of 21 April 2020 to Question 38493 on India: Coronavirus, if he will provide an update on the number of UK residents stranded abroad in Punjab, India as a result of the covid-19 pandemic who registered with his Department for flights to return to the UK.

Photo of Tan Dhesi Tan Dhesi Shadow Minister (Transport)

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, how many UK residents stranded abroad as a result of the covid-19 pandemic who were located in Punjab, India have returned home on UK Government charter flights.

Photo of Nigel Adams Nigel Adams Minister of State (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) (Joint with the Department for International Development)

India is a priority for the UK Government and we have been working closely with both airlines and the Government of India to ensure British travellers can return home.

We have brought nearly 18,000 people back to the UK on 66 chartered flights from India, including from New Delhi, Goa, Mumbai, and other areas of the Punjab, Gujarat and West Bengal. These flights carried almost all of those in India who registered, were eligible, and took up a flight when given the chance to do so. We estimate that of these, over 8,000 people returned from the Punjab on 29 charter flights between 13 April and 4 June.

Since then, thousands of people, including British nationals, have been able to make use of outbound legs of Air India's "Vande Bharat" repatriation flights to return to the UK, as well as the increasing number of other flight options out of the country. It is extremely difficult to be precise about numbers: we do not require British travellers to register with us when they go overseas or report their return to the UK via other means, while there were instances of multiple registrations by the same individual and other who were not eligible.

We continue to assess the need for any future flights and are in contact with airlines, the Indian authorities, and other governments to maximise options for returning to the UK. For any British travellers who are unable to do so, support is provided by our consular teams in India.

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