India has launched one of the world’s largest evacuation operations to bring back Indians stranded in different parts of the world due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The two airlines Air India and its subsidiary Air India Express would embark on this mission to bring a total of 2,300 passengers, the Press Information Bureau (PIB) said on Twitter today.
Under the Vande Bharat Mission, State-run carrier will operate special flights from New Delhi, Cochin and Kozhikode to Singapore, Abu Dhabi and Dubai respectively.
About 14,800 stranded Indians from 12 countries would be brought back in 7 days, where the highest number of passengers- 300- would be from the United States, followed by 250 each from the UK, Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines, and so on.
To accomplish this mission, the two airlines have already tested their pilots and crews for COVID-19 following the laid down Standard Operating Procedures (SoPs).
On 5th May, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs stated that a person with OCI card, a valid visa of more than one year of that country, or had the green card of that country, can be evacuated under the Vande Bharat mission.
Although India has been following a strict nationwide lockdown since March 25 to avert the growth of coronavirus cases, medical evacuation flights and special flights have been permitted by the aviation regulator DGCA.
Previously the airlines have already carried out massive repatriation flight operations to virus affected cities like Wuhan in China, and Rome in Italy to bring back stranded citizens, mostly students and pilgrims.