Saturday, May 09, 2020

Over 190,000 Indians will be brought home: Civil aviation minister to Wion

Air India, under the Vande Bharat mission, has been assigned to operate 64 flights from May 7 to May 13 to bring back as many as 14,800 Indian nationals stranded abroad amid the coronavirus-induced lockdown. To this end, India's Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri has termed this operation as the "largest evacuation programme undertaken by any government using civil aviation assets in decades."

Puri, in an exclusive conversation with Wion, said the ministry has so far drawn up the programme for only a week, and the further details shall soon be shared.

"This is the largest evacuation programme undertaken by any government using civil aviation assets in decades. We had earlier presumed that the number of people wanting to come back home would be 190,000. But as we started off with the programme, we realised this was on the conservative side," Puri said.
He added, "We have so far drawn up the programme for the first week, that is starting from May 7 till 14. In this phase, we plan to bring home about 14,800 Indians stranded in 12 countries through 64 flights.

"But as I said the number is on the conservative side, this may increase as we go forward."

These 64 flights would be conducted by Air India and its subsidiary Air India Express to repatriate Indians from 12 countries such as the UAE, the UK, the US, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines, Bangladesh, Bahrain, Kuwait and Oman.

India will conduct 10 flights to the UAE, seven flights each to the US and the UK, five flights to Saudi Arabia, five flights to Singapore and two flights to Qatar to repatriate Indian nationals between May 7 and May 13.

During this time period, India will also conduct seven flights each to Malaysia and Bangladesh, five flights each to Kuwait and Philippines, two flights each to Oman and Bahrain, Puri had earlier announced.

Private airlines may be roped in if need arises, he said.
08/05/20 Wion
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