At least 155 Indian citizens in Malta are stuck in limbo after their scheduled COVID-19 repatriation flights to Cochin, India this month were rescheduled twice and is now cancelled indefinitely.
In a letter signed by 33 Indian citizens and seen by Lovin Malta, the group pleaded for help after being informed yesterday that their repatriation flight, scheduled for today, had been cancelled following unfruitful discussions with Indian authorities.
This means that their repatriation flight has now been cancelled twice, having first been set for 8th June, later rescheduled for 17th June and now set to be rescheduled again.
In an email sent the morning before they were set to fly, the Foreign Affairs Ministry informed them their flight had been cancelled “due to COVID-19 logistical restrictions for pilots and flight crew”.
Cochin International Airport edited a Facebook post of incoming flights to remove reference to the Air Malta repatriation flight.
The Indian nationals have not yet received a date for a rescheduled flight.
Upon contacting the Indian Embassy for further information, the stranded people were told that Malta did not request permission from India for the flight landing.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Evarist Bartolo denied this, however, affirming that permission was requested by Malta but denied by authorities in India.
Some fear they will not afford rent and food whilst they wait for a new date for repatriation. Most had already vacated their residences in Malta in preparation for the flight. With no work, they are now looking to extend their lease and ask for money from their families in India to support themselves until they can return home.