‘Welcome home’: greeting eases tension after long stay in India

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A New Zealander who arrived home on a repatriation flight from Delhi says he was overwhelmed by the warm welcome at the airport.

Sydney, Australia - February 12, 2019: Air India Boeing 787 Dreamliner taxiing at Kingsford Smith Sydney International Airport. Registration: VT-NAC

Health precautions were in evidence for the flight from Delhi to Auckland. Photo: 123RF

Dev Bhardwaj planned to stay four weeks in India when he flew over alone to visit his sick father in January but his flight was cancelled and India went into lockdown.

After being stranded in India for four months, he touched down in Auckland yesterday.

Bhardwaj said his excitement at being home was boosted by the greeting from government officials.

“Every department official I met said ‘welcome home’. That takes away all your feelings about what you faced about being away from the country for so long. All your tiredness disappeared with those simple words – ‘welcome home’.”

He said the airport in Delhi was quiet and the only international flights running were to Frankfurt and New Zealand.

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Health protocol was strict on the flight.

Baggage was sanitised before being loaded and people practised social distancing. All passengers were given a kit containing hand sanitiser, alcohol wipes, masks and a face shield. Passengers sitting in middle rows wore a full PPE suit to prevent the possible spread of Covid-19.

Bhardwaj said he looks forward to seeing his family when he is released from two weeks of managed isolation.

About 200 New Zealanders stranded in India since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic were on the flight.

It is one of six planned to and from India this month – subject to regulatory approvals.

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