300 stranded people from India fly back home to Sydney

By Neena Badhwar

While there are many stranded still in India, Aussie travellers including Indians settled here who had gone to see their families in India, one flight that recently landed in Sydney repatriated 300 of them, desperate to come back to Australia. The rescue flight was organised by Sai Sharman Pty with travel arrangements by Amit Sharma of Pricebeat Travels.

Says Amit, “We tried to help as much as we can without making a cent out of the whole operation. Our staff in Delhi and here worked non-stop to help people. It was totally a not-for-profit exercise on our part.”

Amit said that his business out of the many affected by lockdown is one of the worst ones hit, “I have a dedicated staff of four people who are now sitting there doing nothing yet I must support them because they are like my family. Our office in Delhi was getting thousands of calls and we were able to negotiate with Singapore Airlines each ticket costing $2350 per person. But I must say people are really thankful having come back to Sydney although they have to now stay in the 14-day quarantine period.”

Altogether close to 3,000 people have been brought back from India, says Amit, “Four aircrafts were organised by the Australian High Commission, five crafts by Lion Air and this first flight by us with 300+ people that came on May 6.”

There are still a lot of people in other cities in India such as Kolkatta, Chennai and other places because states have their own lockdown measures in place.

Amit told TIDU about people who were on this flight, one a mother with an 8-month-old baby, another 70-year old man, some who ran out of medications, “It is a moment of great satisfaction when you know you made a difference to lives in some small way. We all know how important it is to be at home with your family during such crisis.”

“It was a sigh of relief for all these passengers who have been away from the family, some   for more than 45 days not knowing when they will be able to see their families. Special arrangements were made at both the airports to facilitate travel with thorough screening conducted that no one is running fever or has cough and social distancing norms were also followed by all the passengers.”

“We would like to thank the Australian Government, Australian High Commission, Australian Border Force, Indian Government and associate partners for the support and the trust they put in us. It is a team effort and the flight was not possible without every body’s support who came forward and made this happen.”

Amit has also come across people who are stuck in Australia, one a honeymoon couple and another family who are finding it hard to cope being travelers, says he, “We have collected a list of over 600 to 700 people who are desperate to go back to India. We can organize a flight but the formalities have to be cleared by the Consular office here in Sydney. For the Indian government concern is more for the people in the middle east, Australia is not on its radar at the moment.”

Regarding rest of the people stranded in India, Amit says he heard that Australian government is organizing Qantas flights to bring them all back.

Amit can be contacted on 0430 360 094.



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