Thiruvananthapuram: The first batch of Indian citizens stranded abroad amid Coronavirus pandemic arrived in the country in a repatriation flight on Thursday. Also Read - Extending Working Hours, Opening Shops For Long Duration: MP Govt’s New Measures To Revive Economy

The Air India Express flight carrying 177 Indian citizens from Abu Dhabi landed at Kochi airport yesterday as India launched its biggest ever repatriation exercise in its history to bring back its nationals stranded abroad amid the international travel lockdown over the COVID-19 pandemic. Also Read - Delhi Govt's Another Bid to Stop Crowding: You'll Need E-token to Buy Liquor in Capital Now

The Air India Express flight IX 452 with 177 passengers and four infants landed at the Cochin International Airport (CIAL) at 10.09 pm, an airline spokesman said. Also Read - 850 Rooms in Luxury Hotels And 350 Others Prep up to Quarantine Returnees From Abroad in Delhi

The evacuated citizens will be sent to the quarantine facilities set up by the administration in their respective districts, Kerala government officials said.

Further, repatriation of Indian nationals from Singapore will start from Friday when the first of the nearly 20 special flights will evacuate 240 Indians from the city-state who are stranded amidst the international travel lockdown.

The flight will leave Singapore at 8.35 am for Delhi on Friday with one more scheduled for Delhi and one each for Bangalore and Mumbai, Jawed Ashraf, Indian High Commissioner to Singapore, told PTI.

Flights for other destinations like Chennai, Trichy, Amritsar, Ahmedabad and Kolkata have also been requested, Ashraf added.

All flights and quarantined costs are being paid by the passengers themselves, he added.

The stranded Indians include tourists, business travellers, people on family visits, professionals whose Employment Pass have expired and their family members, students who have finished their courses or have to pursue them online or are no longer in a position to sustain themselves.

Also stranded are 55 priests who were here for a function at a Hindu temple.

Among the stranded are several hundred students, who were pursuing technical or vocational courses here and were financing their stay and studies through part time work.

Notably, Air India is operating 64 flights till May 13 to bring back around 15,000 Indian nationals stranded abroad amid the COVID-19-induced lockdown.

(With agency inputs)