New Delhi: The government is set to commence the second phase of Vande Bharat Mission — a repatriation exercise to bring back Indians stranded in other countries due to the Coronavirus pandemic — with 149 flights. The second phase will begin on May 16 and will extend up to May 22. The Ministry of Civil Aviation is working in collaboration with the Ministry of External Affairs and state governments to bring back Indians from nearly 31 countries.
In the second phase, flights will be sent to countries such as France, Germany, Italy, Ireland, Thailand, Russia, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan, Georgia, Canada, Australia, Nepal and others for the first time.
At least 6,037 Indians have been flown back to India in 31 inbound flights operated by Air India and Air India Express under Vande Bharat Mission over the last five days. The evacuation exercise was started on May 7. Air India, along with its subsidiary Air India Express, has been operating a total of 64 flights (42 by Air India and 24 by AI Express) to 12 countries — USA, UK Bangladesh, Singapore, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Philippines, UAE, and Malaysia — to repatriate 14,800 Indians back in the first phase.
"Each and every function in this massive air evacuation mission strictly adheres to the safety and hygiene protocol laid down by the Government and DGCA. MoCA, AAI and Air India leave no stone unturned to prioritize the safety of passengers, the crew and ground handling staff in these sensitive medical evacuation missions," the government said earlier in an official statement.
Extensive and meticulous safety arrangements are made in accordance to government guidelines.