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Aircraft with swab samples of Indians in Iran arriving for tests

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on March 06, 2020 Published on March 06, 2020

The flight will take back Iranians from India

A Mahan Air flight from Iran is expected to land here on Friday tonight with swab samples of 300 Indians stranded there, senior government officials said.

Mahan is an Iranian airline which flew between Iran and Delhi thrice a week before the government stopped all flights from that country.

“It will be a ferry flight of Mahan Air. It will not have any passengers from Iran; only swabs of Indians. The return flight will carry back Iranians in India,” said Arun Kumar, Director General, Directorate General of Civil Aviation. Civil Aviation Secretary Pradeep Singh Kharola added that if the need arose more such flights would be allowed.

Evacuation effort

This is part of the Centre’s evacuation effort to get Indians back from Iran. The Mahan Air flight is being allowed despite India banning all flights from Iran a couple of days back. Officials explained that the Iran evacuation is different from the rescue flights that Air India launched to Wuhan in China, as there were regular flights between Iran and India before the Centre stopped the flights.

Hardeep Puri, Minister for Civil Aviation, said close to 6.5 lakh passengers arriving on over 5,500 flights had been screened at 30 airports around the country till yesterday for the coronavirus. On an average, about 70,000 passengers are being screened on a daily basis at airports across the country.

The Centre’s decision to introduce universal screening of all international passengers means it takes an additional 8-10 minutes for an arriving passenger to clear formalities at Indian airports.

Officials said it took two-three hours to fumigate the entire aircraft of an international carrier. “Of course, the departures of aircraft are getting affected,” the official said.

Normally, most flights depart after about an hour of arrival in the country.

Published on March 06, 2020

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