KLM flight with 100 Indians transiting from US, Canada turned back to Amsterdam

NEW DELHI: A KLM flight was asked to return to Amsterdam after it took off for Delhi on Friday with about 100 Indians transiting back home from US and Canada. Since India has barred entry of anyone from Europe, UK and Turkey — including transit passengers from there — aviation authorities here asked the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, operating as KLM 871, to return to Amsterdam.
The flight had flown for about four hours and was over Russia when it was asked to fly back. A passenger on this flight said on social media when the aircraft was returning to Amsterdam: “It’s shocking and appalling as I write this mid-air. Our special flight for evacuating almost 100 passengers has been turned back. Indian authorities refuse to accept this flight inspite of all (on board being) Indians from US and Canada…. Ppl haven’t showered for two days now. All restaurants at Amsterdam (Schiphol airport) are shut. Despite a go ahead by MEA (external affairs ministry), this flight is being rerouted to the epicentre of the virus.”
India has clearly banned entry of anyone from places like Europe and UK for the time being. “When aviation authorities got to know the flight has taken off for India in violation of that very clear rule, it had to be told to go back. India’s plan is to avoid people from corona hotspots to fly here and spread the infection here. We are aware of the fact that Indians are stranded abroad. Quarantine facilities are being created. There is a humanitarian issue and we will allow special flights to bring back Indians based on that preparedness of all stakeholders,” said a senior official.
Officials of airports, airlines, health and security agencies, immigration, customs and other departments have been at the forefront of the corona battle ever since people — possibly infected ones — started flying back to India from hotspot countries.
After this particular KLM flight took off for India despite restrictions in force, the DGCA issued circular to all airlines reiterating the restriction on anyone flying here from places like EU, UK and Turkey. It directed them to “strictly adhere to instructions… Strict action shall be taken against the airline found in contravention…”

Zeeshan Laskar

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