Vande Bharat mission: National carrier Air India and it’s subsidiary Air India Express are all set to embark upon one of the world’s largest evacuation operations from today.
According to official information, Air India’s flight No. IX 452 with 200 passengers on board from Abu Dhabi is expected to reach Cochin International airport on Thursday at 9.40 pm. The Indian Navy dispatched two ships to Male, the capital of Maldives, to commence the first phase of the evacuation operations from May 8, 2020.
The two airlines following the laid down Standard Operating Procedures (SoPs) which were released on Tuesday have tested their pilots and crews for COVID-19.
Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA), and Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) are coordinating with the respective State governments. As part of the evacuation measures, the office of Prime Minister Narendra Modi is in touch with Chief Ministers of Gujarat, Kerala, Maharashtra, Telangana, and Delhi and others and is guiding them.
What is Vande Bharat Mission?
Air India and Air India subsidiary Air India Express will operate to 64 flights in seven days to bring back 14,800 stranded Indians from 12 countries. Both the companies will work under India’s massive effort named ‘Vande Bharat Mission’.
The airlines have readied the aircraft type and taken care of all other logistical aspects to embark on this mission.
Vande Bharat Mission Schedule
Air India will operate the Delhi-Singapore flight on today around 11 p.m. from IGI Airport. The flight will arrive back to Delhi at 7 a.m. on Friday morning.
Similarly, Air India Express will operate Cochin-Abu Dhabi-Cochin and Kozhikode-Dubai-Kozhikode services. These will be the first in the 64 ferry services which will be operated by the two airlines from May 8-14.
Besides one-way ferry service, Air India invited passengers, who qualify under the government’s new international travel norms to apply for passage from India to various destinations the airline will send its aircraft to conduct evacuation flights.
As part of the Samudra Setu (Sea Bridge), the Indian Navy dispatched two ships to Male, the capital of Maldives to commence the first phase of the evacuation operations from May 8, 2020.
According to official communication, at least 1,000 or more people are expected to be evacuated in the first ship in naval ships, INS Jalaswha and INS Magar. The evacuated passengers are expected to reach Cochin port on Friday.
The Press Information Burea shared the plan for the first day, where it said that 2,300 people will be brought back. The highest number of passengers – 300 – are coming back from the United States, followed by 250 each from the UK, Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines, and 200 each from Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Riyadh, Doha and Dhaka.
Besides one-way ferry service, Air India invited passengers, who qualify under the government’s new international travel norms to apply for passage from India to various destinations the airline will send its aircraft to conduct evacuation flights. Overall, more than 190,000 Indian nationals, who would have to pay a one-way ferry service charge, are expected to be brought back in the airlift operation.
On Tuesday, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs stated that a person who has an OCI card, or held the citizenship of a foreign country, or held a valid visa of more than one year of that country, or had the green card of that country, can travel on the repatriation flight leaving India under the Vande Bharat mission.
Three decades ago, Air India led a group of airlines which included Indian Airlines and Aeroflot as well as Indian Air Force to rescue an estimated 111,711 Indians from the Gulf, after Iraq invaded Kuwait in the year 1990.
The 59-day operation involved 488 flights and was conducted before the first Gulf war. This time, the exercise will encompass flights to the US in the West to the Philippines in the East.