First Air India repatriation flight lands in Auckland

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Revised Schedule of five more flights to India announced

Venkat Raman
Auckland, June 5, 2020

It was an emotional moment for 233 people who arrived from India at the Auckland International Airport this morning, thanks to the efforts of the Indian and New Zealand governments and their respective diplomatic missions in New Delhi and Wellington.

The special flight, operated by Air India, landed at 1104 am, about 30 minutes earlier than scheduled. Most of the passengers on board were New Zealand citizens and permanent residents, who were stranded in India for the past at least three months under Covid-19 lockdown conditions imposed by both countries.

The service was a part of ‘Vande Bharat Mission’ of the Indian government, which has thus far repatriated more than 45,000 Indians from all around the world. In its third phase, 70 flights are scheduled to cities in the US and Canada, between June 11 and June 30, 2020.

Passenger numbers

Paramjeet Singh, Second Secretary at Indian High Commission in Wellington, said that there were 212 adults and 21 infants on the non-stop flight that arrived in Auckland today.

“This service could take the maximum capacity of the aircraft since the Bombay High Court decision to keep middle seats vacant comes into effect tomorrow, Sunday, June 7, 2020. Therefore, the number of passengers on the outbound flight to New Delhi-Indian nationals stranded in New Zealand, will be limited to 156. These will include 130 passengers in Economy, 20 passengers in Business and six in First Class cabins,” he told Indian Newslink at the time of filing this report.

Mr Singh will be in Auckland with India’s High Commissioner Muktesh Pardeshi and two other officials of the High Commission from Wellington to farewell the first batch of outbound passengers.

Passengers to Auckland checking at Delhi Airport (Picture by Dev Bhardwaj)

A major event

Auckland Airport General Manager (Aeronautical Commercial) Scott Tasker, said that the arrival of the first direct Air India flight from India was a much-anticipated event.

“Any time we get a first visit from an airline on a new route, it is a major event. Less than a year ago, we led a delegation of tourism industry leaders to India and we were working hard to develop that market. I believe that we will see a scheduled direct flight between India and New Zealand in the near future,” he said.

Mr Tasker said that the bond between the two countries are strong and hoped that India will be a key market in the long-term recovery of New Zealand’s tourism industry.

Flight to India tomorrow

The first outbound flight from Auckland to Delhi by Air India will leave at 4 am tomorrow, Sunday, June 7, 2020.

The flight is now filled to the allowed capacity of 156 passengers.

Passengers inside the Air India special service to Auckland (Picture by Dev Bhardwaj)

As a measure of convenience to passengers, the cost of tickets (Economy $2478; Business $5416; First: $7700) is being accepted by the Indian High Commission since Air India does not have an office in New Zealand. However, all tickets must be purchased and paid for in advance.

Passengers should be at the Auckland International Airport at least four hours in advance to comply with the check-in and health procedures.

We, however, advise people to visit the Indian High Commission website or Facebook page for constant updates.

Revised Schedule of five more flights
Wednesday, June 17, 2020: Auckland-Delhi-Chandigarh at 4 am (0400 hrs)
Thursday, June 18, 2020: Auckland-Delhi-Ahmedabad at  1030 pm (2230 hrs)
Saturday, June 20, 2020: Auckland-Delhi-Hyderabad-Bengaluru at 1030 pm (2230 hrs)
Monday, June 22, 2020: Auckland-Mumbai at 1130 pm (2330 hrs)
Wednesday, June 24, 2020: Auckland-Delhi-Trivandrum-Chennai at 4 pm (1600 hrs)

Some requirements
Passengers from New Zealand will be selected by the Indian High Commission based on priorities and criteria.

The cost of local travel, accommodation and other arrangements should be borne by the passengers. Terms, conditions, quarantine regulations, health procedures in New Zealand and India will apply to all travellers.

New Zealand citizens and permanent residents stranded in India who are keen to return to this country must register on the New Zealand government website but their travel will be subject to various approvals and finalisation by the New Zealand High Commission in Delhi.

Pictures and Video sent by Dev Bharadwaj, a passenger in the Air India service from Delhi to Auckland.

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