QF112 departed New Delhi at 20.05 Friday (00.35 Saturday AEST) from Terminal 3 of Indira Gandhi International Airport, according to the airport’s live flight information.
The flight is set to land in the Northern Territory today at 9.20am (9.50am AEST) and passengers will spend quarantine at a facility in Howard Springs.
Of the planned passenger group, 72 were banned from the flight home to Australia after 48 tested positive for coronavirus.
The other 24 were family members of positive cases and deemed close contacts.
High Commissioner to India Barry O’Farrell said it was tragic for those who were set to be on Australian soil by tomorrow.
“This is a tragedy for them today, and equally for their families in Australia,” Mr O’Farrell said.
“We’re in the middle of a COVID crisis here in India and it takes 24 hours at least to get the results of a COVID test, so the likelihood of people quickly taking places on the plane is harder than it seems.”
Akriti Gupta from Melbourne is another passenger hoping to have her results cleared so she can board the plane.
“We are booked for the flight tonight and we are waiting for our COVID results,” Ms Gupta told 9News.
“It’s very heartbreaking because people here have already quarantined for three days in Delhi and have already said goodbye to their families.”
The positive diagnoses means those Aussies will be stuck in India until they recover.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade were working to fill the flight with more passengers but the 48-hour pre-flight testing proved an obstacle.
Qantas flights heading to India to bring back Australian citizens have also been carrying vital supplies to the subcontinent, including ventilators and oxygen concentrators.
Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne said today’s flight will bring the total number of repatriation flights from India to 39.
“These government-facilitated flights will be focused on returning Australian citizens, residents and families who have registered with our high Commission and consular offices within India and will prioritise the most vulnerable people,” Ms Payne said.
The next government repatriation flight from India is expected to arrive in Darwin on May 23.
Arrangements for further facilitated flights into Australia are underway.