Kolkata: Air India will operate two special flights between Kolkata and London on August 22 and 29 to cater to the movements of students traveling to the UK and USA before the fall semester.
Amnesty International officials said Flight AI 0164 will leave London at 1:15pm on August 21 and 28, and arrive in Kolkata at 3:15am on August 22 and 29. The return flight departs at 4.30 am and lands in London at 9.55 am.
“Flights are being operated to deal with the onslaught of students flying west. Apart from Kolkata, there will be similar flights from Amritsar, Ahmedabad and Kochi. The revival of the weekly direct flight, which was discontinued in December 2020, cannot be operated,” a spokesperson for the airline said. It is done only if it is “disembarked.” India is from the amber area on the UK government’s list of countries.
While the news will bring joy to the students, it is disappointing for both the business community and tourists who had been hoping to travel after the return of the weekly service. The UK is among the select countries that have allowed Indian tourists to travel to the country and has also eliminated institutional quarantine requirements when travelers are fully vaccinated. However, it only recognizes Covishield, the vaccine licensed in the UK by Oxford AstraZeneca, and not Covaxin, which was developed in India.
The airline only operates regular flights to the UK from Delhi and Mumbai.
Travel agents in Kolkata urged the return of direct flights to London Heathrow, which launched on September 16, 2020, but after the outbreak of the British Covid type 22. During the second wave, India was similarly isolated to stop the spread of Delta and Delta Plus cultivars, which are believed to be more contagious than previous cultivars.
With the United Arab Emirates, Switzerland, Germany, Spain and France gradually opening up to allow tourist travel without quarantine requirements for fully vaccinated people, travel agents say a direct flight without a change of service will become the norm.
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