Indian Students, Families Caught Up In UK Flight Suspension

Indian Students, Families Caught Up In UK Flight Suspension

Many Indian students who planned to travel back home to be with their friends and family in India over the Christmas and New Year period are among those caught up in Monday’s suspension of all flights to and from the UK as the world reacts to a new rapid-spreading strain of coronavirus detected in parts of England.

While many students would have made travel plans earlier in December after UK universities set up tests to leave the campus processes in place, there are some who are booked on flights in what is one of the busiest travel periods within the UK-India sector.

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While tourist visas largely remain suspended, those in the UK for family reasons are also among those caught out by the cancellation.

“Significant concern is being observed from Indian students both inbound and outbound,” said Sanam Arora, Chair of the National Indian Students and Alumni Union UK (NISAU-UK), a representative group for Indian students in the UK.

“Many students had planned to travel either back to India to be with their families over the holiday period or from India to the UK in order to start settling into the country ahead of the commencement of the January session. As we speak, there are many questions being raised around being stuck and confusion for instance around whether the PCR test detects the new strain of the virus,” she said.

The Indian High Commission in London issued several messages on its social media platforms with updates from the Ministry of Civil Aviation in India.

“This suspension to start w.e.f. 23.59 hours, 22nd December 2020. Consequently flights from India to UK shall stand temporarily suspended during above said period,” it said, in a statement in response to a barrage of queries by travellers if inbound flights from India to the UK may be allowed to land.

Air India, which has been operating flights under the Vande Bharat mission to ferry passengers during the coronavirus pandemic lockdown this year, also confirmed immediate cancellations.

“In view of the Ministry of Civil Aviation directive of suspension of all flights to/from UK from 2359 hrs of 22nd December to 2359 hrs of 31st December, 2020, no Air India flight will operate to the UK during this period,” it said.

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