30,000 Indians to return home in Phase 2 of Vande Bharat Mission

New Delhi: Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri on Wednesday said that 30,000 Indians will return from 31 countries on 149 flights between May 16 and 22, the duration for the second phase of the Vande Bharat Mission.

During the first phase of the Vande Bharat Mission, Air India 64 flights were operated between May 7 and May 14; which bought back 14,800 Indians from 12 countries on a payment basis. Air India and Air India Express are also operating forward domestic flights after few international flights so that passengers can reach their destinations within the country amid the coronavirus-triggered lockdown. 

“Phase II of Vande Bharat from 16-22 May will also include flights from Armenia, Australia, Belarus, Canada, France, Georgia, Germany, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Nepal, Nigeria, Russia, Tajikistan, Thailand and Ukraine,” Puri tweeted. 

The minister said that 8,500 Indians have already returned till Wednesday morning and more flights are underway as part of phase I of the Vande Bharat Mission. “In phase I of Vande Bharat we were to bring back 14,800 Indians on 64 flights…In the 2nd phase, the numbers are being doubled.

Around 30,000 more Indians will return from 31 countries on 149 flights,” he stated. Out of the 149 repatriation flights under phase II, 31 would come to Kerala, 22 to Delhi, 17 to Karnataka, 16 to Telangana, 14 to Gujarat, 12 to Rajasthan, nine to Andhra Pradesh and seven to Punjab. During phase II of the Vande Bharat Mission, six flights each would be for Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, three for Odisha, two for Chandigarh, one each for Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir. 

Apart from aerial evacuation, the Indian Navy has deployed two of its ships to repatriate Indians from abroad. Since March 7, these two ships have repatriated approximately 1,000 Indians from the Maldives as part of the Vande Bharat Mission. India has been under lockdown since March 25 to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus, which has infected more than 74,200 people and killed around 2,400 people in the country till now. All scheduled commercial passenger flights have been suspended for the lockdown period.

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