The Federal Government said it is continuing to work to bring more Australians home from India after the first repatriation flight out of the country touched down in Darwin.
Flight QF112 landed in the Northern Territory today at 9.20am (9.50am AEST) where passengers will spend two weeks at quarantine facility in Howard Springs.
However, nearly half of the 150 passengers were not allowed on the plane due to testing positive to COVID-19 prior to departure, or being a close contact of an infected person.
Of the planned passenger group, 72 were banned from the flight home to Australia. There were 48 people who tested positive for the virus and another 24 family members deemed close contacts.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said defended the decision and said there is still capacity for additional Australians to return home throughout the rest of this month.
"We're following the medical advice and ensuring that we protect Australians here and I'm pleased that first flight has arrived and, obviously, there'll be more flights to come," Mr Frydenberg said.
"We invoked the Biosecurity Act because of the need to protect Australians and to ensure that we were doing everything possible to prevent the spread of COVID."
He said the health standards were set high to protect Australians.
"A tragedy for them"
High Commissioner to India Barry O'Farrell said it was tragic for those who were set to be on Australian soil this weekend.
"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 hoped 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."
It is not yet known if Ms Gupta was on board the flight.
A positive diagnosis means 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.