Sachin Dev is one of the many international students navigating Canada’s extended ban on direct flights from India as he tries to make his way to Montreal before the start of the new semester.
The PhD student at McGill University has been planning a circuitous route that would allow him to take a COVID-19 test in another country before arriving in Canada — an effort he said has already led to five flight cancellations and a financial hit to his family.
Purchasing tickets via a third country is not only five or six times more expensive but involves infection risks too. I’ve faced financial issues because I am not able to access my (university) stipend, which requires a Canadian bank account and study permit, which I will receive only at the airport.
Dev said repeated extensions of Canada’s flight ban and shifting pandemic quarantine requirements for Indian passport holders in other countries they need to travel through have been behind some of his flight cancellations.
Canada’s ban on direct flights from India — announced April 22 as India experienced a massive surge of COVID-19 cases, and extended again this month — has meant international students have had to plot complex travel itineraries, shoulder the cost of an extended journey, and deal with the uncertainty that comes with obtaining a COVID-19 test in a third country.