First mercy flight from Covid-ravaged India lands in Australia half EMPTY after 40 were kicked off the plane because they tested positive
- Qantas plane carrying 80 Australian has landed in Darwin after leaving India
- The passengers have boarded busses headed for their two weeks quarantine
- A ban on people traveling to Australia from Covid plagued India has been lifted
The first repatriation flight from Covid plagued India has touched down in Australia at Darwin airport – with up to 80 passengers hopping on buses to nearby Howard Springs for mandatory quarantine.
More than 40 people who tested positive along with about 30 of their close contacts were barred from returning on QF 112, which had a Covid-safe capacity of 150 seats.
In all, between 75 and 80 returnees made it onto the eight-and-a-half hour flight, which touched down about 9.25am on Saturday.
The first repatriation flight from India has landed in Darwin on Saturday (pictured)
The Qantas plane had up to 80 Australians on board after 40 were refused because of positive Covid tests
The next government-facilitated flight from India is expected into Darwin on May 23, bringing it to a total of 40 such flights since March 2020.
Both the PCR and rapid antigen tests are a prerequisite for being able to board.
The 26 per cent positive rate is far higher than the 3.5 per cent rate registered in passengers on the March repatriation flights.
Australia’s High Commissioner to India Barry O’Farrell is disappointed those who tested positive won’t be able to get on the flight.
‘My team has worked hard across India to get them bookings on this flight because they are vulnerable,’ he told the ABC.
Buses were waiting at the airport to ferry the passengers to their two weeks of quarantine (pictured)
‘Regrettably those people will have to return home and deal with the Covid that they have, or continue to isolate to prove that they don’t have Covid.
‘Until such time that they test negative they won’t be able to fly on one of these facilitated flights.’
More than 9000 Australians are in India registered as wanting to return, about 900 of them said to be desperate or vulnerable.
The Australians will be isolated at Howard Springs facility outside Darwin until they are cleared to travel on
The flight to New Delhi on Friday carried 1056 ventilators, 60 oxygen concentrators and other essential supplies, adding to a wealth of medical equipment sent last week.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the controversial weeks-long pause in travel from India had worked, with active cases in hotel quarantine dropping more than 40 per cent over the past few weeks.
In the Northern Territory, the number of active cases has fallen from 53 to a handful although two US Marines who arrived as part of the Marine Rotational Force in Darwin on April 9 were added to the list on Saturday.