As part of the Foreign Office’s mission to repatriate several thousand British nationals stranded in India, the first of seven chartered flights carrying 316 passengers from Goa will arrive at Stansted Airport on Thursday.

“This is going to be the first of seven flights taking British nationals home from across India this week," Paul Carter, acting British Deputy High Commissioner to India, said outside Goa’s Dabolim airport.

"However, we know there are many thousands of British nationals in Goa who are very eager to get back home and we are working round the clock to ensure that we get them home as soon as possible."

Two chartered flights are expected to leave Goa on April 10 and 12, while four more chartered flights are leaving Mumbai and New Delhi on April 9 and 11.

More than 35,000 British citizens are stranded in India after the suspension of commercial international air travel on March 22, to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic.

About 20,000 British citizens have expressed willingness to return to the UK.

Passengers were thermal scanned as they entered the airport. Credit: Vikram Nayak

“Due to the large numbers of travellers involved, the scale of this operation is huge," Jan Thompson, acting British High Commissioner to India, said.

"The UK Government continues to work hard with our Indian counterparts in New Delhi and London to arrange a safe journey back for as many people as possible."

The first chartered repatriation flight, Titan Airways AWC040G, left Goa Airport late on Wednesday evening.

The first few flights are expected to carry the elderly and the most vulnerable.

“We are expecting two more flights to fly to the UK in the next few days and there are indications that other nations may also send relief flights to evacuate their citizens," Goa Airport's Director Gagan Malik said.

The first flights out of India are expected to carry the elderly and vulnerable. Credit: Vikram Nayak

The Titan Airways flight had arrived at Dabolim Airport late on Tuesday night and officials from the British Deputy High Commission were overseeing repatriation operations.

They were also helping the stranded passengers arriving at the airport.

Around 20 coaches brought the tourists from different locations in Goa to the airport.

The passengers filled declaration forms, were thermally scanned and socially distanced from each other as they entered the airport to return to the UK.

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