The first Air India Express flight carrying Indian citizens took off from Dhaka in Bangladesh. Taking to Twitter, All India Radio News wrote: "The first air India flight from Dhaka evacuating Indians from Bangladesh taking off from Hazrat Shah Jalal airport Dhaka, Bangladesh."
The Air India flight from Bangladesh to Srinagar, carrying 167 stranded passengers including all medical students from Jammu and Kashmir, will leave for India at around 11 am on Friday. The students expressed gratitude towards the Central government and the Indian Embassy in Bangladesh for finally heading home.
Earlier on Thursday, the first Air India Express flight IX 452 carrying 177 passengers from Abu Dhabi landed in Kochi. The flight took off for Abu Dhabi from here earlier in the day to bring back Indians stranded in the Gulf countries due to the Covid-19 induced lockdown.
On Monday, the Indian government announced plans to begin a phased repatriation of its citizens stranded abroad from May 7. The government also said that Air India will operate 64 flights from May 7 to May 13 to bring back around 15,000 Indian nationals stranded abroad due to the lockdown.
Short-listing the first passengers from among a database of more than 200,000 applicants, who include around 6,500 pregnant women, has been a mammoth task which posed several challenges for the missions, Neeraj Agrawal, Consul, Press, Information and Culture at the Indian Consulate in Dubai told the Gulf News.
(Inputs from Agencies)