PM restarts flights from India after ban backlash

·1-min read

Australia will restart repatriation flights from India on May 15 after medical advice saying the pause has eased pressure on quarantine.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Friday announced the travel ban would end on its planned expiry date, following a fierce backlash against the harsh measures.

"The pause that we put in place for travellers coming back from India is working," he told reporters in Newcastle.

Qantas planes behind a wire fence in a photo on the left. Scott Morrison is pictured on the right.
Scott Morrison says repatriation flights from India will commence on May 15. Source: AAP

There will be three flights this month to bring back the most urgent cases with 900 vulnerable citizens and permanent residents stranded in India.

All arrivals will be quarantined at the Northern Territory's Howard Springs mining camp where capacity is set to increase to 2000 beds.

Cabinet's national security committee signed off on the decision on Thursday following advice from Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly.

The controversial ban came under heavy fire from within conservative ranks, the Indian-Australian community and human rights groups after the government threatened jail and fines for people who broke it.

Up to 200 passengers could be on the first flight, which will likely depart almost immediately after the temporary travel ban is lifted.

The travel ban is in place until May 15, with about 9000 Australians stuck in India.

Immigration Minister Alex Hawke said some of those stranded were in great danger and would be prioritised when flights were approved.

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