Vande Bharat Mission to Enter Phase 4 With 114 Air India Flights, AI Express to Operate 300

The Ministry of Civil Aviation has announced that the Vande Bharat Mission will enter phase 4 on July 3. Air India will operate a total of 114 flights including 31 flights to the US, 19 to the UK, 9 to Canada & 8 to Australia. Meanwhile, Air India Express will operate 300 flights in July including 136 up to 14 July & 164 between 15 July & 31 July.

The Ministry also stated that private airlines have volunteered to contribute significantly to the new phase. operating around 498 flights. The first phase was from May 7 to 16, following which the second phase began.

The US Department of Transportation announced on June 22 that it has barred Air India from operating chartered flights between India and the United States from July 22 without its prior approval, in apparent retaliation for the Indian government not allowing American carriers to operate between the two countries.

Therefore, on June 23, the Aviation Ministry had said that it was considering establishing "individual bilateral bubbles" with the US, the UK, Germany and France allowing airlines of each country in the pact to operate international passenger flights.

After nearly two months of suspension to combat the coronavirus outbreak, the government resumed scheduled domestic passenger flights from May 25 but in a curtailed manner and by placing lower and upper limits on airfares depending upon the flight duration.

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Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri on June 20 said that the government will start thinking on resuming scheduled international passenger flights in mid-July, when it expects the domestic air traffic to reach 50-55 per cent of the levels before coronavirus.

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) said last Friday it is extending the suspension of scheduled international passenger flights in the country till July 15 but added that some international scheduled services on selected routes may be permitted on a case-to-case basis.

(With inputs from PTI)