The office of the Indian High Commission in New Zealand has confirmed that only those given clearance by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Trade will be eligible to buy tickets and travel on Air India’s flights coming to New Zealand. 

Currently, there are hundreds of New Zealanders or people on resident and other temporary visa holders normally living in NZ who could previously not avail the facility of NZ government’s assisted flights to come back home and are stranded in India. 

The news of India’s evacuation flight to New Zealand in early June and the offer to bring those stranded in India has generated much hope and anticipation, along with the need for further actionable information. 

Pursuing this immense public interest in the matter, the Indian Weekender has been constantly toeing the offices of the MFAT and the Indian High Commission for more clarity and information. 

Speaking to the Indian Weekender Paramjeet Singh, Second Secretary (Political, Information & Commercial Representative) at the Indian High Commission said, “We have been categorically told by the MFAT in our bi-weekly meetings that they will be providing us with a definite list of eligible people who can buy tickets and travel on Air India’s flight coming to New Zealand. 

Responding to an enquiry sent by the Indian Weekender, a spokesperson of the MFAT said, “India is currently looking into Air India charter flights to repatriate its citizens from New Zealand, and we are working with the Indian authorities to explore options for New Zealanders to return home on any outward flights from India, including any from southern India.”

MFAT will get in touch with New Zealanders about tickets via safe travel 

Clarifying further about the MFAT’s focus and strategy on getting people - who normally live in New Zealand but are currently stranded in India, the spokesperson said, “Only passengers who meet current New Zealand immigration requirements would be able to board these flights and enter New Zealand.”

“The focus of our repatriation efforts is on New Zealand citizens in challenging circumstances,” the  spokesperson said

“MFAT officials will be in touch with New Zealanders via SafeTravel in the coming days regarding these outbound flights,” the spokesperson further added. 

So technically it means that those stranded in India and keen to travel to New Zealand on the Air India evacuation flight should only be buying their tickets after getting clear instructions from the MFAT, even if they are able to do so otherwise. 

More flights possible as Indian envoy appeals for calm 

Meanwhile, Indian envoy Muktesh Pardeshi further sought to assuage nerves of stranded people signalling more flights, other than the already announced New Delhi to Wellington on June 4 (and returning back on June 7) are likely as his office continues to work behind the scenes. 

“It is advised to keep calm as we work out on finalising detailed SOPs around the flight,” Mr Pardeshi said. 

Intense bilateral engagement at the official level 

Meanwhile, speaking about the enhanced diplomatic coordination between the two countries in recent times Mr Pardeshi said, “It is a recent development with an immediate focus on the repatriation issue and highlights the importance that our two nations place on each other.”

“There is immense planning going on in terms of planning the logistics of the flights along with ensuring the safety of everyone involved. It requires continuous coordination and cooperation between our two countries,” Mr Pardeshi said.