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New Delhi: An Air India flight from Delhi to Moscow on Saturday had to return midway after the airline's ground team found out that one of the pilots had tested positive for novel coronavirus, officials said.

"When the A320 plane, which did not have any passengers as it was heading to Moscow to bring back stranded Indians under Vande Bharat Mission, had reached Uzbekistan's airspace, our team on ground realised that one of the pilots had tested COVID-positive," senior Air India officials said.

"The flight was immediately asked to return. It came back to Delhi at around 12.30 pm on Saturday," the officials said.

The crew has been quarantined. Another plane would be sent to Moscow to bring back the stranded Indians, according to the officials.

Air India announces more flights to evacuate Indians

Air India on Friday announced additional flights between June 4 and 6 to bring back Indians stranded abroad amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The flights will evacuate Indians from the US, UK, Germany, South Korea, New Zealand, and Sweden.

"Additional flights announced by @airindiain under Mission Vande Bharat. Delhi to Auckland on June 4. Delhi to Chicago & Stockholm on June 5. Delhi to New York, Frankfurt & Seoul on June 6. Mumbai to London & Newark on June 6," Union Minister for Civil Aviation Hardeep Singh Puri tweeted.

He said that bookings for the flights would start from 11 am on May 30.

The Centre started the Vande Bharat Mission on May 7 to bring back stranded Indians from abroad.

In Phase 1 between May 7 and 16, over 16,000 people were brought back. In Phase II from May 17 to June 13, Air India flights are scheduled to operate from 60 countries.

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