New Delhi: The largest part of the ongoing phase of repatriation flights for Indians infected with COVID-19 worldwide has been done for the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, the spokesperson of the ministry of external affairs (MEA) said on Friday.
Of these, about 920 flights accounting for 68 per cent of the total are from GCC countries, Srivastava said.
The latest phase of these repatriation flights, known as the ‘Vande Bharat Mission’ began on March 1 and will continue until March 28. At this stage, more than 1,350 international flights are being arranged from 28 countries, enabling an estimated 260,000 Indians to travel home.
Until Thursday, about 6.15 million Indians from all over the world have been repatriated, a large bulk of them owing to COVID-19 disruptions since the Vande Bharat Mission flights began on May 7 last year.
Repatriation under VBM includes Indian state-owned carriers, Indian private airlines, foreign carriers, chartered flights, ships and land border crossings. Srivastava said India currently has bilateral air bubble arrangements with 27 countries, including five GCC states.
The spokesperson said that compared to the large number of flights coming from GCC under VBM, only about 150 flights are from North America, about 120 from the UK and Europe, and about 100 from Southeast Asia. And about 50 flights from India’s neighborhood.
What is Vande Bharat Mission?
Vande Bharat mission started on May 7 2020 by the union government to bring back stranded Indians in different parts of the world in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. VBM is the massive repatriation operation planned by the Indian government.
Union civil aviation minister Hardeep Singh Puri tweeted recently, “Vande Bharat Mission began with 64 flights & about 12,800 passengers on 6 May 2020. Since then we have facilitated repatriation & International travel of more than 6 million people. The mission, now in its 8th phase continues ahead.”
Earlier, the ministry of external affairs lauded the largest repatriation mission of its kind and the efforts of the aviation ministry of the country.