India has opened up its skies for repatriation flights operated by foreign airlines. The Vande Bharat Mission is an initiative of the Government of India to fly back Indians stranded due to the suspension of regular International flights.
So far, only Air India had been operating repatriation flights since early May. Recently, the US and the UAE had objected to Air India’s Vande Bharat Mission stating that the scheme was discriminatory. A few days ago, India permitted foreign airlines to participate in the repatriation mission.
Foreign airlines keen to participate in Vande Bharat
Foreign airlines are keen to start repatriation flights to India.
United Airlines has started operating flights from Newark to Delhi. The tickets are said to be in high demand, and all flights are fully booked.
The Gulf carriers Emirates, Etihad and Air Arabia have also started flights to India. They would be flying to many of their popular destinations like Hyderabad, Chennai, Bengaluru, Cochin and Mumbai.
Air Canada, Lufthansa and Singapore Airways are likely to follow suit by announcing repatriation flights. The Indian low-cost carriers SpiceJet, Go Air and Indigo have also announced a schedule to run repatriation flights in July too.
Air Travel limping back to normalcy in India
India suspended all International flights on 23 March. The Director-General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), India has again reiterated that International scheduled flights will not be permitted till 31 July. However, a few routes may be opened up earlier on a bilateral basis.
During this period only chartered and repatriation flights are permitted.
The Government claims that 87% of Indians have already been repatriated. With hundreds of more flights permitted from all across the globe, return to normalcy is on its way. Of course, passengers will still have to follow the strict health control regime mandated for travellers.
All in all, repatriation flights are of substantial importance. However, operating them is much more difficult than usual commercial operations. India’s efforts have been applauded globally, and the lessons learnt during these operations might as well pave the way to resume commercial flights in current afflicting times! What are you thoughts on India’s repatriation efforts? Let us know in the comments!
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