© Air India aircraft are seen on the tarmac at the international airport in Mumbai on May 26, 2010. Air India cancelled 76 flights on May 26 after a lightning strike by ground crew and engineers in protest at a management gag order on staff after the weekend's fatal air crash. The protest came after Air India asked union officials to respond to claims that they had disclosed sensitive information following Saturday's Air India Express crash that killed 158 of the 166 people on board. AFP PHOTO/ Punit PARANJPE (Photo credit should read PUNIT PARANJPE/AFP/Getty Images)

India’s mammoth repatriation operation has had a setback. Some flights were delayed as crew members are still waiting for their Covid-19 test results to come back, local media have reported.

The first flight heading out to pick people up will now take off at 23:15 local time from the national capital, Delhi, to Singapore on Thursday night. And the second one, a flight from Mumbai to London, is expected to depart on Friday morning.

Nearly 15,000 Indians are expected to return on more than 60 flights from 12 countries over the next week.

Passengers will pay their own fares and be quarantined on return. Indian navy ships are also assisting in the exercise.

India suspended all international travel in March before it went into lockdown to curb Covid-19 infections. The country currently has 33,414 active cases.

Eventually, about 200,000 Indians will be brought back, report local media. If successful, this would be India’s biggest evacuation mission since 1990, when it rescued 170,000 civilians from Kuwait during the Gulf War.

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