India’s Vande Bharat evacuation operation begins today, 2,300 people to come back in first batch
India has launched a massive evacuation operation to bring back Indians stranded in different parts of the world due to the coronavirus pandemic.
State-run carrier Air India will operate special flights from New Delhi, Cochin and Kozhikode to Singapore, Abu Dhabi and Dubai respectively as part of the Vande Bharat Mission.
The flights under the mission will start operating from Thursday. A total of 2,300 passengers will be brought back today, the Press Information Bureau (PIB) said on Twitter today.
The highest number of passengers - 300 - are coming back from the United States, followed by 250 each from the UK, Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines, and 200 each from Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Riyadh, Doha and Dhaka.
In all, over 14,800 stranded passengers will be brought back, the PIB said in the tweet.
Air India is following the Standard Operating Procedures (SoPs) which were released on Tuesday and have tested their pilots and crews for Covid-19.
On Tuesday, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs stated that a person who has an OCI card, or held the citizenship of a foreign country, or held a valid visa of more than one year of that country, or had the green card of that country, can travel on the repatriation flight leaving India under the Vande Bharat mission.
India has been under a lockdown since March 25 to curb the spread of coronavirus disease Covid-19. All scheduled commercial passenger flights have been suspended for this lockdown period.
However, cargo flights, medical evacuation flights and special flights permitted by the aviation regulator DGCA have been allowed to operate during this time.
Since February this year, Air India has been conducting various repatriation flights to virus-affected cities like Wuhan in China and Rome in Italy to bring back Indian nationals.