Air India has commenced the country’s largest-ever repatriation operation ever with Mission Vande Bharat. The first of the 64 flights took off yesterday piloted by Captain Anshul Sheoran flew yesterday. In his first in-flight announcement, Sheoran described how it was an honour for him to fly the first flight in such a crucial mission.
The Indian airspace for international flight re-opened on Thursday after remaining closed for over 7 weeks. The first flight flying from Abu Dhabi to Kochi was scheduled to reach the destination by 10 p.m on Thursday. Sheoran also lauded the efforts of the Indian Navy which embarked on a similar mission called the ‘Samudra Sethu’ to bring back Indian nationals from nearby countries.
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.
The development comes as India commences one of the world's largest air evacuation operations from May 7, when the two airlines started the first phase of the mission.
As per plans, these two airlines will operate 64 flights in seven days to bring back 14,800 stranded Indians from 12 countries.
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.