New Delhi: Think crisis, think Air India (though it does not change the inevitable privatisation). The national carrier has rolled out flight schedule and opened up bookings for Vande Bharat Mission on Thursday. Vande Bharat Mission is India's massive plan to bring back more than 14,000 stranded Indian citizens from 12 foreign countries. Air India has uploaded the full flight schedule, which can be downloaded from HERE. According to the information provided on the website, Air India will be operating 64 flights to 12 countries over nine days to evacuate Indian citizens between May 7 to May 15.
Air India said that "citizens from these countries looking to return could book a ticket home on these flights. Indian nationals with at least a year-long visa to these destinations will also be allowed to travel in case of medical and other emergencies".
According to the schedule, the national carrier has scheduled flights to the US, UK Bangladesh, Singapore, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Philippines, UAE and Malaysia. Further, several Air India Express flights will also connect domestic sectors like Delhi-Srinagar, Mumbai-Ahmedabad, Delhi-Hyderabad, Delhi- Ahmedabad, Cochin-Chennai, Delhi-Chennai etc during the period.
Over 200,000 Indians stuck in abroad have registered for repatriation, Union minister Hardeep Puri said that the final number of evacuees could actually be lot more. Two ships have also set sail, one for the Maldives to bring back some 1,000 Indian citizens and another to the Gulf countries for repatriation of Indians stuck there. In fact on Thursday itself an Air India flight carrying 177 passengers took-off from Abu Dhabi. The information was given by Anurag Shrivastav, Official Spokesperson, Ministry of External Affairs.
Air India has made it clear that the entire cost of travel will be borne by the passengers and it will only allow the following category of people to booking flights to foreign destinations.
1. Nationals from these 12 countries
2. Indian nationals with at least a one-year-long visa for these destinations
3. Green Card and OCI (Overseas Citizen of India) cardholders
4. Health workers holding a valid permit for travel to destination countries provided they have obtained written permission from the Embassy/High Commission of the destination country.
It has also been made clear that Vande Bharat Mission entertains only those passengers who comply fully with all travel and health requirements of the country of destination. Additionally, at the time of boarding the flight, they will have to undergo thermal screening as per health protocol and only asymptomatic travellers would be allowed to board the flights. According to a detailed list of conditions put on the Airline's website, all passengers will be travelling on these flights at their own risk.