The government started the mission on May 6 to help stranded people reach their destinations using special repatriation flights.
Air India will fly 114 flights while IndiGo and GoAir will operate 457 and 41 flights respectively between July 3 and July 15 under the fourth phase of the Vande Bharat Mission. The government started the mega mission to evacuate stranded Indians from abroad on May 6. Scheduled international passenger flights have been suspended in India since March 23 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Under the fourth phase of the mission, Air India will operate 114 flights to India from 17 countries, Canada, the US, the UK, Kenya, Sri Lanka, Philippines, Kyrgyzstan, Saudi Arabia, Bangladesh, Thailand, South Africa, Russia, Australia, Myanmar, Japan, Ukraine and Vietnam, according to the airline’s document accessed by PTI.
Air India’s chartered flights are scheduled to be operated between July 3 and 15, the aforementioned official document stated. It said the airline will fly 31 flights from the US and 19 flights from the UK. Earlier, a previous document of Air India had said that it will operate a total of 170 flights to and from 17 countries. Private airlines like IndiGo and GoAir will also play a major role in the fourth phase of the mission.
In a tweet on Sunday evening, the Civil Aviation Ministry said, “Private Airlines will have significant participation in Phase-4 of VBM. Among others, IndiGo will operate 238 flights from Qatar & 219 flights from Kuwait; while GoAir will operate 41 flights from Kuwait. Number of pvt carriers, flights & destinations likely to increase.”
Air India is scheduled to operate 272 chartered flights to and from various countries in the third phase, which began on June 10 and will end on July 4. The first phase started from May 7 and commenced on May 16.
The US Department of Transportation announced on June 22 that it has barred Air India from operating chartered flights between India and the United States from July 22 without its prior approval, in an apparent retaliation to the Indian government for not allowing American carriers to operate between the two countries.
On June 23, the Aviation Ministry said that it was considering establishing “individual bilateral bubbles” with the US, the UK, Germany and France, allowing airlines of each country in the pact to operate international passenger flights.
After nearly two months of suspension to combat the coronavirus outbreak, the government resumed scheduled domestic passenger flights from May 25 but in a curtailed manner and by placing lower and upper limits on airfares depending upon the flight duration.
Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri on June 20 said that the government will start thinking on resuming scheduled international passenger flights in mid-July, when it expects the domestic air traffic to reach 50-55 per cent of the levels before coronavirus.
The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) said last Friday that it is extending the suspension of scheduled international passenger flights in the country till July 15, but added that some international scheduled services on selected routes may be permitted on a case-to-case basis.