Thousands of Brits stranded in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh due to the coronavirus will fly back to the UK on a fleet of chartered flights within days.
An air bridge of 31 chartered flights will bring more than 7,000 people home – but the flights are already fully booked leaving thousands more marooned.
That adds to the 27 flights already departed from South Asia over recent days.
Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab announced the extra flights will take off from several airports in the region.
“We are working around the clock to get British travellers home. Since the outbreak of coronavirus in Wuhan, we’ve helped more than a million British citizens return home on commercial flights – backed up by our work with the airlines and foreign governments to keep flights running,” he said.
“Our special charter deal with the airlines has enabled us to return thousands more.”
Help for most vulnerable travellers
Rabb announced 17 flights from India, 10 from Pakistan and four Bangladesh, which take off by April 27.
Around 5,000 Brits have already returned to the UK from 11 Indian cities. The 17 extra flights from India will carry around 4,000 passengers.
The flights from Pakistan will bring around 2,500 people home. More than 8,000 British nationals have come back to the UK on 23 commercial flights.
The four flights from Bangladesh will bring home another 850 passengers, while three charter flights from Nepal have brought more than 700 passengers to the UK.
The UK Government has spent £75 million available for special charter flights from abroad, focused on helping the most vulnerable travellers.
3 million stranded overseas when coronavirus struck
Passengers have paid between £400 and £800 for their one-way flights, depending on the distance travelled.
More than 3 million Brits were estimated to be abroad when the coronavirus lockdown grounded thousands of flights around the world.
About a million are reckoned to have been brought home on the government’s rescue flights.
Priority for seats is given to passengers thought to be the most vulnerable due to age or underlying health conditions.
In March, the government urged Brits abroad to return home as quickly as possible to avoid being stranded in a foreign country.