Indians Stranded by COVID-19: India Vande Bharat Mission to the Rescue
Bringing Close to 200,000 Indians Home
As many as 170,000 Indians stranded by COVID-19 have traveled back to India under the Vande Bharat Mission of the government, which Indians from several countries have used. This second phase of the scheme will continue until June 13, after which phase 3 of the program will commence to bring back Indians from many more countries, so far not covered. These will include Helsinki, Johannesburg, Phnom Penh, and Shanghai.
The third phase of the Vande Bharat scheme will be the largest, with Air India operating 203 flights out of India to bring Indians home who have been stranded because of the lockdowns due to the COVID-19 coronavirus. Phase 3 will start on June 10 and last until July 1.
The schedule also has 356 flights which include return services and domestic connections. All domestic flights in the schedule are meant for international connecting passengers departing and arriving on the Air India evacuation flights.
Initial focus is also on Indians stranded in the UK, specifically London. From here, Air India will have 5 flights between June 18 and 23, flying approximately 1,200 Indians. There will also be 75 flights to destinations in the US and Canada which will include New York, Chicago, Vancouve, and Toronto.
In addition to Air India, Air India Express will also have a separate schedule mainly connecting destinations in the Middle East. IndiGo airline will operate 97 flights from Kerala to destinations in the Middle East as well. IndiGo is the only private carrier involved in the mission until now.
In the future, however, another development point to India’s plans to introduce charter flights to bring more stranded Indians back home. The private corporates will be involved in this part of the exercise.
So far, international flights by commercial airlines are not being allowed ever since they were stopped because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.