India repatriates over 6 million under Vande Bharat Mission: Civil aviation minister Hardeep Singh Puri
India has repatriated more than six million people under the Vande Bharat Mission, Union minister of civil aviation Hardeep Singh Puri said on Tuesday. "Vande Bharat Mission began with 64 flights and about 12,800 passengers on 6 May 2020. Since then we have facilitated repatriation and International travel of more than 6 million people," Puri said on Twitter.
The Indian government had launched Vande Bharat Mission, considered to be the world’s largest expatriation exercise to bring back stranded Indians from foreign destinations due to Covid-19 restrictions. Foreign carriers have also been conducting unscheduled repatriation flights for their citizens since March 23.
Earlier this month, the eighth phase of the mission was initiated and is currently in progress.
Meanwhile, the Union minister earlier said that domestic air traffic was inching closer to pre-Covid levels with 2,90,518 passengers travelling on 2,360 flights on Friday. On February 28, the number of domestic passengers rose to 3,13,668 which was the highest since the resumption of domestic flights on May 25 last year. "Number of domestic passengers on February 28, 2021, rose to 3,13,668 on 2,353 flights. This is the highest since the resumption of domestic flights on May 25, 2020," Puri had said on the micro-blogging site.
"Total flight movements on February 28, 2021, were 4,699. The total number of footfalls on airports was 6,17,824," the ministry also said in the statement.
He also said that the domestic air traffic is rising day by day and it is expected to increase further in the summer. He also said that the government may remove the fare band besides lifting other restrictions.
The aviation industry was one of the severely affected sectors due to the Covid-19 lockdown last year. India's domestic passenger traffic slipped to a seven-year low in 2020 due to a complete pandemic-induced halt in air travel last summer for two months.