Air India has announced the 5th phase of Vande Bharat Mission to rescue stranded Indians to international destinations to rescue stranded Indians. The airline also announced that it will be ramping up its number of flights in the upcoming phase, the details for which will be announced shortly.
The fourth phase of the Vande Bharat Mission brought back as much as 2.5 lakh Indians from 53 countries around the world. Under the Phase 4 of the Vande Bharat mission, a total of 1,197 flights have been scheduled so far, including 945 international flights and 252 feeder flights, MEA Spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said at a media briefing.
#FlyAI: Under the #VBM, Air India has brought back more than 2.5 lakh Indians from as many as 53 countries. We are launching Phase 5 of #VBM from 1st Aug 2020 & have added many more flights to several International destinations. Details will be announced shortly.— Air India (@airindiain) July 24, 2020
"These flights are operated by the Air India group, IndiGo, SpiceJet and GoAir. They cover 29 countries. They will be reaching 34 airports in India," he said.
Of these, 694 flights have reached India as on July 22, repatriating nearly one lakh people so far, he said.
Phase 4 is expected to continue until August 2, by which time around 80,000 more people are expected to return, Srivastava said.
"As on 22nd July, 7,88,217 Indian nationals have returned. 1,03,976 Indians have returned from Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh by land borders," he said.
Noting that the Ministry of Civil Aviation had announced the establishment of bilateral bubbles with some countries, the MEA spokesperson said that between July 22 and August 31, Air India will be operating 30 flights a week to the US (New York, Chicago, Washington, New Jersey and San Francisco), four flights a week to Germany (Frankfurt) and three flights a week to France (Paris).
The ministry continues to be in touch with missions on specific demands for repatriation from students completing their courses abroad, workers and other stranded Indians with compelling reasons, he said.
As regards to repatriation from Kyrgyzstan, Srivastava said India is scheduling additional flights. "In fact, a number of such flights are scheduled and we are hopeful that with these additional flights we will be able to repatriate more and more of our students from there," he said.
Twenty-five flights have been arranged from Bishkek to 13 destinations in India from July 3 to 30, the MEA Spokesperson said.
"When the current phase of Vande Bharat culminates, we would have 88 flights which would have brought back nearly 13,600 Indian nationals and this includes students," Srivastava said.
There was a restriction on chartered flights due to the COVID situation in Kyrgyzstan, but as a result of the intervention of the Indian ambassador, India could obtain an exemption for such flights of operate, he said.
(With inputs from PTI)