Toronto– Canada’s decision to ban direct flights from India till September 21 while allowing vaccinated family-class passengers and students from all other countries has not gone down well with the Indo-Canadian community.
As a result of the ban, Indian students and family-class returnees are taking indirect routes to reach Canada, costing them $4,000-$6,000 per person.
They are travelling to Canada via Mexico, the Maldives, Doha, Belgrade and Cairo, where they stop for two to 10 nights before taking a Covid test and boarding onward flights.
The Canadian government said that passengers coming from India “via an indirect route will continue to be required to obtain a valid Covid-19 pre-departure test report from a third country — other than India — before continuing their journey to Canada”.
The Canadian authorities suspect that travellers from India are using fake documents about Covid vaccination.
As direct flights from countries such as Pakistan continue to land here, many in the Indo-Canadian community see the ban as a discriminatory move against India.
Indo-Canadian aviation expert Hemant Shah said Canada’s decision is guided by political reasons.
“Why only India? When you talk about human rights, why this discrimination against India when Indo-Canadians are a major part of Canada’s workforce, and Indian students pump billions into Canada’s economy,” he asked.
Satish Thakkar, chairman of the Canada-India Foundation, said the ban has created a lot of confusion in the community because Covid cases are coming down in India even as other countries show signs of an uptick.
“Passengers from India take shots of Covishield which is approved by the WHO and Canada. If you allow people with two doses from other countries, the same should apply to travellers from India. If you allow them via third countries, why not directly,” Thakkar asked.
Toronto-based Rishi Kapoor of Nanak Flights said the ban on direct flights is bleeding travellers from India.
“If the authorities here suspect Covid tests, they should issue a list of approved labs so that the travellers can get vaccinated there before coming to Canada,” Kapoor said.
However, Brig (retd) Nawab Heir, who heads the Veterans’ Association of Ontario, said the ban on India flights has been extended in view of the threat of the Delta variant.
“There have been reports of some Delta cases around Brampton and some people have been caught with fake test certificates and flouting rules,” he said. (IANS)