Union Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri on Tuesday announced that the second phase of the Vande Bharat Mission will commence without waiting for the first phase to get over. The Aviation Minister revealed that the 149 flights that are supposed to fly during the second phase will function seamlessly alongside the remaining flights of phase one. There will be no gap in the two phases of the operation, he added.
The second phase of the Vande Bharat Mission will begin from May 16. The 31 countries part of the second phase includes Thailand, Saudi Arabia, Iman, Qatar, France, Ukraine, Armenia, Kuwait, Ireland, Malaysia, Italy.
149 flights in 2nd phase of Mission Vande Bharat will not wait for remaining flights of 1st phase to get over. The two phases will be operational simultaneously & seamlessly. There will be no gap between them.— Hardeep Singh Puri (@HardeepSPuri) May 13, 2020
We remain committed to bring back our stranded & distressed citizens. pic.twitter.com/1nBtktNYkD
In the last five days, from May 7 to May 11, Air India and AI express have operated 31 inbound flights which carried 6037 passengers and operated 34 outbound flights that carried 1329 foreign nationals. Under the Vande Bharat mission announced by India, the Air India group will operate 64 special repatriation flights to bring back around 14,800 Indians from 12 countries from May 7 to May 13. Stranded citizens will be tested before boarding the flight and only asymptomatic individuals will be allowed.
The Ministry of Home Affairs has also issued a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for the evacuation and has said that it will prioritise the distressed in foreign countries. MEA has developed a dynamic online platform on which requests received by Indian Missions from Indian nationals wishing to return are regularly being uploaded.