As a part of the massive Vande Bharat Mission to repatriate Indian nationals stranded in foreign countries amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the first Vande Bharat flight from Rome has taken off for Delhi and Kochi with 239 passengers on board. The Indian embassy in Italy took to Twitter to post visuals of the Indian nationals departing from Rome for Delhi and Kochi.
First #VandeBharatMission flight from Rome taking off for Delhi and Kochi today with 239 passengers. Thank @ItalyMFA @MEAIndia @DrSJaishankar @HardeepSPuri@airindiain for their support pic.twitter.com/5mlsyfOePU— India in Italy (@IndiainItaly) May 21, 2020
Together we can. Thanks Embassy and Air India teams for being on the frontline to assist our fellow Indians return home safely. @IndiainItaly @airindiain @MEAIndia @DrSJaishankar @HardeepSPuri #VandeBharatMission pic.twitter.com/hAaWcRDudR— India in Italy (@IndiainItaly) May 21, 2020
Reenat Sandhu, Indian Ambassador to Italy interacted with the passengers prior to their departure. "It's a matter of great pleasure for us that Vande Bharat Mission from Italy is starting today. I want to thank all those who made it possible. We have got excellent support from Italian authorities. I want to thank authorities in India for this mission," Reenat Sandhu said.
Reenat Sandhu, Ambassador of India to Italy interacted with passengers who will be boarding the first repatriation flight from Rome, Italy to Kochi in Kerala. #VandeBharatMission pic.twitter.com/acLCwBhEvK— ANI (@ANI) May 21, 2020
Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri on Thursday affirmed that more than 20,000 Indians have been brought back under the Vande Bharat Mission and many more to follow in the coming days.
"Under Vande Bharat mission, we have brought back more than 20 thousand of our citizens from various destinations. We have at the same time utilised the outgoing aircraft to carry our citizens who are normally residents abroad, and needed to travel because they have jobs to do and other commitments," Puri said at a press conference.
Punjabi folk singer Ginni Mahi also thanked the Indian Embassy before boarding the first flight from Rome under Vande Bharat Mission. "I want to thank the Indian Embassy for the cooperation they extended to us for a month. Today we are going to our homes safely, thank you so much," said the singer.
Indian government launched the first phase of the Vande Bharat Mission on May 7 and the second phase began on May 16. The Centre may rope in private airlines in the third phase which is set to begin after June 13.