Air India stepping up efforts to bring Indians stranded in Tokyo home

In a bid to intensify efforts to bring stranded Indians in Tokyo home, the government pressed into service Air India's Jumbo Boeing 747-400, with a seating capacity of 423 passengers, yesterday. Instead of the scheduled Boeing 777 aircraft, the national carrier will fly the jumbo aircraft to Tokyo for the next three days. 

Air India announced that the flight would leave Delhi at 2300 hrs and reach Narita next morning at 0950 (local time). The return flight would leave Narita at 1130 hrs (local time) and reach Delhi  at 1800 hrs (local time). The airline said additionally, it would continue to operate three weekly flights to Osaka as per schedule. 

Meanwhile, the civil aviation ministry remains in constant touch with the external affairs ministry, and is guiding the Japan operations, according to an official of the civil aviation ministry. The official said as and when required the number of Air India flights to Japan would be increased. So far, Air India has brought 900 passengers home, following the double tragedy - earthquake and tsunami in Japan. 

According to the ministry the flights would be operated on a commercial basis meaning the passengers would be charged the applicable fares. However, Air India has waived penalties on re-scheduling, cancellation or refunds on tickets for travel between the countries till 31March. 

In addition to Air India, Japan Airlines is operating four weekly flights as scheduled between Delhi and Tokyo. Other major operators on the route operating flights are Cathay Pacific, Thai Airways, Singapore Airlines, Malaysia Airlines. 

Meanwhile the external affairs ministry said in a statement today that all Indians were reportedly safe.