Vande Bharat Mission: 26 flights to depart from Canada from June 9 to June 30
With more than two dozen repatriation flights scheduled over a period of just three weeks, Indian officials in Canada are optimistic that most Indian citizens with compelling reasons to return to their home country will be able to do so this month.
The first of the total of 26 flights will leave from Toronto on June 9 and the last on June 30. Two dozen flights will depart from Toronto, while the remaining two will take off from Vancouver.
India’s High Commissioner to Ottawa Ajay Bisaria was hopeful that these departures will manage to “accommodate” most of those with “urgent needs” to return to India this month.
This is the second phase of repatriation flights from Canada under the Modi government’s Vande Bharat Mission. All flights are being operated by Air India.
In May, five flights left from Toronto and Vancouver, carrying back 1,343 Indians. This phase, announced by Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri, is part of the 75 flights scheduled from United States and Canada.
More cities in India have been added in this phase. While Delhi will remain the hub, passengers will be able to travel to the cities of Chennai, Kolkata, Lucknow and Trivandrum, which did not figure in the May schedule. Those flights connected several other cities including Amritsar, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad and Jaipur.
This will also be the first time that Overseas Citizen of India or OCI card holders in distress will also be able to fly to India since they were not eligible in the month of May. Relaxation of Government rules for OCIs have meant that some may qualify for these flights.
As with the initial phase of repatriation, Air India flights departing from India will also be taking registrations from Canadian citizens and permanent residents wishing to return back to Canada. As Puri pointed out earlier, 1,417 flew out of India in the first phase. Air India will start accepting reservations for the Canada-bound flights on June 5.
Bisaria said that nearly 8,000 persons had registered for the repatriation flights on the Indian High Commission’s website and after the first phase, approximately 6,500 remained. These 26 flights should be sufficient to ferry the majority of them. He also pointed out that with the announcement of these flights, there may well be more registration in the days ahead.
However, passengers will have to be prepared for the mandatory 14-day quarantine period once they arrive at their destination in India.
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